NEWS OF THE WORLD CAMPAIGN: £300m in tsunami fund..but no help for Brits
By Neil McLeod
STRICKEN Brits whose lives were wrecked by the tsunami face new heartbreak—after
being DENIED aid despite a £300million disaster fund.
But the News of the World today launches a campaign to help them..by demanding a
trust for families of the 169 UK victims.
Anguished dad Steve Gill, 52, is having to SELL his home after losing new wife Heather,
42, in the Boxing Day disaster.
The £23,000-a-year council building officer cannot afford the mortgage and bills
on his own.
Steve—who narrowly escaped with his life with Heather's daughter Charlie, 17—said:
"The government has forgotten the victims in this country.
"There are others worse off than us who are really struggling. I have lost Heather,
Charlie has lost her mum and now we must lose the house.
"There should be help available from the government, they should be doing more. Children
have come back orphaned, families have lost breadwinners. I asked the Foreign Office
if there was any automatic help.
"They referred me to the tsunami relief fund. But they mainly provide counselling,
which is great but people like me need practical help.
"Nothing should detract from the money to the disaster-hit areas. But there are enough
people affected in this country for it to be a real problem."
Steve was on a dream break with classroom assistant Heather and Charlie when a giant
wave struck Yanui Beach, near Phuket, Thailand.
The pair only met in 2002 and bought their £345,000 home at Lee-on-the-Solent, Hants,
a year later.
More than 400 mourners were at Heather's funeral. Ironically, the family urged people
to make donations to the tsunami appeal—and raised £4,000.
Orphans from another British family have no government help after their parents were
Four of six children were with their mum and dad, who had gone to Sri Lanka to help
impoverished youngsters. The devastated children flew back to southern England.
But there has been no financial help — and they are now living in cramped conditions
with an elder sister.
The mum of victim Piers Simon, 33, last night backed our campaign. Celia Simon, 57,
says the government should begin a hardship fund immediately.
She has even set up her own charity to help other victims.
Celia, of Chilthorne Domer, Somerset, said: "We have had nothing from the government,
the Home Office or the Foreign Office. That really rankles."
The News of the World wants to hear from tsunami victims who need urgent help in
our campaign for a special fund.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram said: "This campaign should have our whole-hearted
support. It is not right that British victims suffer financial hardship on top of
The Foreign Office said: "There is assistance for victims with flight and repatriation.
But there is no compensation as the tsunami was a natural disaster."