Suffolk couple stranded in Colombia appeal for ‘vital’ donations to help local people
- Credit: Archant
A Suffolk couple stranded in South America due to the coronavirus outbreak are appealing for help to assist poverty-stricken local people who have been hit by the pandemic.
Fizzy Lillingston and her husband Jack have been living on a sailing boat in a Santa Marta marina off the north coast of Colombia since February, after being caught up in the coronavirus outbreak.
The couple, who have been married for 40 years, had travelled to the area for a prolonged holiday after Mr Lillingston had fallen severely ill with cancer late last year.
Following his treatment, the pair had organised a sailing trip and planned to head home for an important follow up scan at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London in April.
Sadly, Colombia was placed into lockdown shortly after their arrival and all flights from the country cancelled.
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The grandparents, who live in Bawdsey, have now been told that international travel has been banned until September.
Dr Lillingston said: “We came out here to try to de-stress after Jack’s illness.
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“But sadly this outbreak took a turn for the worse.
“It is a complete lockdown here, we are only allowed to leave the boat once a week depending on our passport numbers, so I can go out on a Wednesday but Jack cannot come with me.
“We are just trying to follow the guidelines set out by the local councils.”
Mr Lillingston, who is a well known singer-songwriter who performs at the Star Inn, Wenhaston, has now had to miss his important scan and the couple are becoming concerned that, despite his apparent good health, he could become unwell again.
Dr Lillingston added: “He seems fine on the surface but the worrying thing is that we don’t know what’s going on inside him.
“We’ve managed to find somewhere to scan him here and are trying to see if we can find a way to send it back to London so we can find out how he is.
“He was really unwell in September. He nearly died, so we really feel he needs to have this scan.”
While the couple have been in lockdown in Colombia, they have teamed up with other stranded tourists from Germany, the United States and Portugal to provide a humanitarian service to locals who have been impacted by the outbreak.
They have been using donations to buy food for those who have struggled during the outbreak due to lack of tourists and a ban on selling food on the street.
“I don’t think people know of the devastation this lockdown is causing to the people of South America,” Dr Lillingston said.
“The lockdown has had a serious effect on the locals here who live hand to mouth.
“Colombian people are good people. They have been incredibly kind to us and so we have dug into our pockets and received loads of help from people back home so that we can help them.
“There is no social care here so they are desperate.
“We’ve managed to raise money and buy food for some families. However, it’s a small drop in the ocean of extreme poverty.”
Those who want to donate to the cause should visit this here.