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Saturday, 20 September 2014

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A shockwave hits home

Traumatised: The Thanner family, back home in Anthorn after their hotel on a Sri Lankan beach was hit by the tsunami wave. With BT engineer Bryan and wife Julie are daughters Jodie 13, Rebecca ,11, and Jemma, 17

By Pam McClounie, Julian Whittle and Chris Story

THE DEVASTATION wrought by the tsunami disaster was brought close to home this week as one Carlisle woman waits for news of her missing brother, another family recovers from the trauma they suffered, and thousands contribute to fundraising.

Bryan Thanner, from Anthorn near Kirkbride, plans to return to Sri Lanka at Easter after miraculously surviving being swept away by the giant wave as it hit the Beruwela beach resort where he was staying with his family.

His wife Julie and daughters Jemma, 17, Jodie, 13, and Rebecca, 11, are too distraught to join him on his return mission. Doctors have advised the family not to go to work or school for another week and Rebecca is to have counselling.

“My children saw things I would never want them to see,” Mr Thanner, 49, said.

“They saw a woman with a baby go under, then come up without the baby and they saw a man on the next balcony get his foot severed by debris.

“This has affected us all badly. It is a life-changing experience.

“I want to thank the people who helped us and see if there is anything we can do to help.

“We’ve all come out of this alive. If it hadn’t been for the Sri Lankans I would definitely have died and we would probably have lost other members of the family.”

Mr Thanner is now planning a charity walk on Hadrian’s Wall to raise money for the tsunami victims.

Sarah German, who runs The Source cafe in Atlas Works, Denton Holme, is still awaiting news of her brother Paul and his wife Jit, who live in Phuket, Thailand.

She has organised a charity concert and remains optimistic for Paul.

Sarah said: “My brother travelled for years. He was last in the UK three years ago and he married Jit seven years ago. All her family live in a cul-de-sac near Nai Harn beach in the Rawai district of Phuket.

“Paul had been teaching English as a foreign language in Tibet but he got sick and was hospitalised for a time. When his health improved he hitchhiked across Burma to Thailand and was sleeping on Patong Beach in Phuket – that’s where he met Jit.

Sarah’s numerous attempts to contact her brother and Jit have so far failed. She said: “I have been in touch with an ex-pat and he’s been going out trying to help people in the UK find missing relatives.

“He replied to my e-mail and told me not to worry as the phone lines are down and we haven’t been able to get through on the landline or the mobile. We normally keep in contact with Paul and Jit by phone and e-mail.

“They could be perfectly well and happy but unable to communicate with us – I just don’t know.”

Sarah organised the concert after witnessing scenes of devastation on television. “The images of fathers carrying their babies and children who are the same age as my son Jack, have really hit home,” she said.

Musicians and singers Will Harris, James Formby, Martin Lee, Ben Gates and Tony Mason will perform in The Source tomorrow night at 8pm.

Tickets cost £5 minimum and all money raised wil go to relief charities. For more information call 07815 190476 or The Source on 01228 595535.

Meanwhile, thousands of Cumbrians gave money and a raft of events are planned to go towards the most expensive aid operation in history.

At supermarkets, donations continue to drop into buckets at the end of checkouts, just over a week after most started collecting.

In Carlisle yesterday, the running total at Morrisons, on Kingstown Road, stood at about £7,000.

At Asda, Kingstown, staff estimated they had more than £5,000 and Tesco totalled £3,000 at its Rosehill store.

Factories have also been playing their part. Workers at Cavaghan and Gray collected £306 while the company has made a private, undisclosed, donation to Oxfam. At McVities, staff are considering organising an event.

The News & Star/UNICEF appeal had by last night raised £8,345. Spectators at last night’s snooker tournament sponsored by the newspaper at Carlisle’s Sands Centre and featuring seven-times world champion Stephen Hendry contributed through a raffle to win a signed cue.

About 400 tickets are also still available for The Cumberland News concert to help the disaster appeal, at St Cuthbert’s Church next Friday, starting at 7.30pm and featuring award-winning pianist Alicja Fiderkiewicz.

Church of England schools in the Carlisle diocese are being asked to be part of a “rainbow of hope”.

Each is being urged to provide a piece of voile or chiffon in a colour of the rainbow which will be sewn together in the city’s Cathedral on Saturday January 22 before being sent to Madras, India, home of the Carlisle diocese’s partner parishes, as a symbol of prayers.

n A wave of compassion:Agenda, Comment, Page 12

n Letters: Page 13

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