One year on - tsunami victims remembered

A YEAR ago today, thousands of lives turned to tragedy when one of the biggest natural disasters the world has ever seen hit the coast of Asia.Among those who died were two men from West Suffolk whose devastated families still to this day struggle to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones.

A YEAR ago today, thousands of lives turned to tragedy when one of the biggest natural disasters the world has ever seen hit the coast of Asia.

Among those who died were two men from West Suffolk whose devastated families still to this day struggle to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones.

Sudbury rowing enthusiast Chris McGlynn, 25, who was a former pupil of St Joesph's Primary School in Sudbury, and St Benedict's Upper School in Bury St Edmunds, had been travelling in Thailand when the wave struck at 5.29pm local time (10.29am GMT).

His devastated parents, Tom and Barbara, and his younger sister, Liz, spent many anxious days waiting for news before receiving conformation that he was indeed one of the many British people killed by the wave and the aftermath that followed.

Elsewhere in Suffolk, the family of Stuart Shields were praying for the safe return of the 37-year-old, from Ridgewell, near Haverhill.

He had been snorkelling with his wife, Tania, off the island of Velavaru in the Maldives, when the tsunami stuck.

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Mr Shields, who was about to be given the all clear after having been diagnosed with a large chest tumour 10 years earlier, was swept out to sea and drowned. His heartbroken wife, who attended a mass inquest in London examining how the victims died, said Mr Shields “had the heart of a lion”.

But while some people got ready to face life without their brother, husband, or son, others turned their attention to trying to help survivors of the monstrous wave that wreaked destruction on Boxing Day last year.

Throughout the region, everyone from school children to self employed businessmen have dedicated their time to helping those whose lives were wrecked by the disaster that shook the world.

In the months that followed December 26, 2004, Rob Myson, from Isleham, near Newmarket, was one of the many people who decided to do something to help the thousands of people who lost their livelihoods and their homes as a result of the tsunami.

Mr Myson launched a campaign to raise money for people living in a tented refugee camp, standing in the ruins of a small community in Galle, on the Southern Tip of Sri Lanka.

Business students at West Suffolk College in Bury produced a charity calendar in aid of the Tsunami Disaster Relief Fund, while lecturer Derek Johnson raised £200 by gorging on a jar of pickle eggs.

Elsewhere in the county, help was being provided on larger scales. Great Cornard businessman Stefan Kosciuszko who runs Asia House - a non-profit organisation aimed a promoting links between Asia and Europe - launched an international appeal to help rebuild the devastated communities.

Now, a year on from the devastating tsunami, some people in Suffolk are still counting their lucky stars they survived the monstrous wave.

Simon Halliday, who has played for Sudbury Cricket Club for the past 20 years, was in Galle when the tsunami hit.

“We didn't know what was happening at first, and we could hear people screaming all around us,” he said.

Mr Halliday was in Asia with group of young cricketers from a London school where he works. He managed to get the boys to a nearby pavilion, where they watched the horror unfold. He said: “Luckily we were able to keep out of the water's reach. My priority was the safety of the boys so I almost forgot about the danger I was in myself.”

Speaking at the time of the terror, Sudbury man Anthony Dupont, who runs a travel agency in Sri Lanka, said: “Buildings have been flattened, and in some areas there is absolutely nothing left; it's as if it's been flattened by a bulldozer. The people are just devastated, and many have lost everything.”

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