Fiji cyclone inspires action by North Yorkshire charity

Relief for Fiji -  Loading the container for Fiji. (centre left to right): Jitoko Tikolevu (Fiji High Commissioner), Peter Thompson (PhysioNet Founder), Andrew Jones MP, David Kaye (PhysioNet Chairman).

Relief for Fiji - Loading the container for Fiji. (centre left to right): Jitoko Tikolevu (Fiji High Commissioner), Peter Thompson (PhysioNet Founder), Andrew Jones MP, David Kaye (PhysioNet Chairman).

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Two Knaresborough Rotarians were so moved after witnessing the devastating destructive power of a storm in Fiji they launched a special relief effort.

Peter Thompson and his wife Valerie were visiting their son, who lives in Fiji, and saw the aftermath of tropical cyclone ‘Winston’ first hand.

Peter said: “My son and his family are in Fiji and they escaped serious damage because they weren’t in Winston’s direct path.

“However many areas were much less fortunate. Having just returned to North Yorkshire we find that press coverage of the event has been very limited and the public perception is that this was simply a ‘passing breeze’ in a tiny Pacific island. It wasn't.”

As founder of PhysioNet, a charity based in Lower Dunsforth near Boroughbridge set up in 2005 to provide physiotherapy equipment to disabled children in Eastern & Central Europe and in developing countries round the world, Peter leapt into action on his return.

Last Satuday saw the third shipment of a container-load of post-disaster relief material to Fiji bringing PhysioNet’s total aid to victims so far to £1.2 million.

The Fiji High Commissioner to the UK, Jitoko Tikolevu, along with Andrew Jones the local Member of Parliament for Harrogate & Knaresborough and Cllr Trevor Fuller, the Mayor of Boroughbridge all attended Saturday’s container-loading session.

Mr Thompson said he felt people had been unaware of just how bad the cyclone has been.

Peter said: “It was a storm that brought gusts of wind of over 306km/h (190mph), torrential rain and waves of up to 12m (40ft), destroying over 4,000 homes and 60 schools on islands in Lau and Lomaiviti group and northern parts of Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu.

“Nearly 50 people were killed, more than 100 injured and thousands of people wereleft homeless by Winston.”

If you would like to help PhysioNet, contact the chairman, David Kaye at david.kaye@physionet.org.uk

More information at www.physionet.org.uk