Charity steps in to help Fiji cyclone victims

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Loading the container for Fiji, from left, Jitoko Tikolevu (Fiji High Commissioner), Peter Thompson (PhysioNet Founder), Andrew Jones MP, David Kaye (PhysioNet Chairman).

The PhysioNet charity in the village of Lower Dunsforth near Boroughbridge sent the container as part of its response to the largest cyclone to make landfall in the southern hemisphere since records began which left 50 dead and thousands homeless.

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

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

“But in fact 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.”

PhysioNet has already contributed two container-loads of aids for the disabled to Fiji through the Spinal Injuries Association over the last three months. But the recent shipment will be the first consignment of post hurricane relief equipment to be provided by the charity.

“We hope that the three shipments – with a combined new value of £1.2 million – will make a significant contribution to the relief effort,” Mr Thompson said.

“The problem is that the latest urgent request for help has come at a time when PhysioNet’s funds are already ear marked for shipments to other countries and so our finances are severely stretched.”

PhysioNet was established in 2005 with the aim of providing physiotherapy and mobility equipment for the disabled in developing countries.

Anyone wanting to help PhysioNet can contact chairman, David Kaye at david.kaye@physionet.org.uk