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Llanwrtyd Wells

Llanwrtyd Wells Tsunami Appeal

Disaster unites Llanwrtyd Wells

The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami sent shock waves around the world, prompting humanitarian efforts to assist entire regions devastated by catastrophe on a hitherto unimagined scale.

Nowhere did the disaster's shock waves resonate more perhaps than in Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys--the UK's smallest town--whose residents felt that they simply could not sit back and feel mere pity. The tsunami galvanized the town into collective action.

"I was so overwhelmed by the tsunami disaster," says Gwyneth Keeble. "And my neighbours felt the same way. We decided to do something, not individually, but together as a community."

Gwyneth organized benefit concerts, with comical acts starring fellow townsfolk, who like other neighbours had previously had kept to themselves. The Stonecroft Inn and private homes opened their doors for rehearsals, and the Bromsgrove Hall waived its hiring fee.

The concerts, although hilarious, were in dead earnest. Townsfolk of all ages participated, and opened their pocketbooks knowing that the proceeds would aid people in need. Thus was born the Llanwrtyd Wells Tsunami Appeal.

The concerts raised thousands for tsunami victims. But rather than to donate the sum into the general fund of an international charity, they chose to look for some way to send their money directly to a community in need.

Searching the Internet, they contacted volunteers of the Sri Lanka Children's Trust working in the worst affected areas of the island's east coast. The volunteers, in turn, despatched a remarkable collection of 64 drawings by children of Kalmunai who witnessed the tsunami and depicted their painful memories in heart-rending drawings.

The good folks of Llanwrtyd Wells framed the drawings handsomely and arranged for them to be exhibited in public, first locally, then in the National Assembly for Wales, then in the Queen's robing room in the House of Lords, and finally at the National Museums and Galleries of Wales in Cardiff. Most were eventually auctioned to raise more money for tsunami affected children.

The people of Llanwrtyd Wells have not stopped finding ways to help traumatized children of Sri Lanka's remote east coast. Gerald and Lyndal Tyler produced two comical films on location in Llanwrtyd Wells with local talent. Others conducted a well-attended Assault Course Mission and carnival-like activities that appealed to folks of all ages.

The Llanwrtyd Wells Tsunami Appeal to date has helped 85 tsunami affected children of Kalmunai (www.navashakti.org) with improved education and nutrition, field trips, and trauma rehabilitation under the direction of UK volunteers Dinah Barton and Sushila Raja.

Recently Sri Lanka Children's Trust Executive Director Patrick Harrigan visited Llanwrtyd Wells especially to thank this community. He was greeted with applause and yet another cheque demonstrating the town's unwavering support.

Llanwrtyd Wells Mayor Peter James M.B.E. reflects, "We felt that fun and hilarity should be the best antidote to pain, suffering, and despair. The tsunami united this town and reaffirmed its longstanding tradition of extending a helping hand to people from afar when our help is what they need."

"Everyone just pulled together in a united effort to send help to fellow human beings in their time of need," says Gwyneth Keeble. "People of this town have done extraordinary things to help victims of the tsunami."

Llanwrtyd Wells official web site
Knorr-Bremse Global Care e.V.
Global Care