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Melksham shows support to Philippines disaster victims


Leanne Hatt writes her message on the wall at Dive Link

Leanne Hatt writes her message on the wall at Dive Link

PEOPLE in Melksham are showing their support to the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan ripped through the country, in one of the most powerful storms to ever hit land. 

One of those appealing for help is Melksham woman Leanne Hatt, who just managed to board one of the last planes leaving the Philippines before typhoon Haiyan hit the following day.

And Melksham Rotary Club have sent over £4,000 to the appeal after fundraising efforts in the town.

Leanne was in the Philippines researching whale sharks following her degree in conservation biology and spent most of her time in Malapascua island, which was hit by winds of up to 200mph.

She said, “When I returned back, there wasn’t too much in the way of news about it as it hadn’t hit yet, but I knew that disaster was coming for the country and I just want as many people as possible to help and show their support for an amazing place.

“There was a warning it would be really bad and the locals seemed to know it as there was a real sense of panic and loads of people were evacuating and panic-buying. I have had a lot of pictures sent from my friends and it makes my heart sink as I know how much they have lost.”

As countries around the world send relief supplies, the UN says that over 11million people have been affected by the disaster and the death toll is rising.

Melksham Rotary has sent £4,000 to the appeal. They are donating the November takings from The Art House Cafe in the Market Place, which they run, to the appeal and have also been collecting in the cafe itself and at Asda. They are also holding a collection at Saturday’s switching on of Melksham Christmas lights.

The club donated £1,000 immediately to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) fund, raised a further £1,000 from collections which has been match funded, and have now collected a further £1,000.

Terry Bazeley from the Art House Cafe said, “The money raised by collections will be sent to the Water Survival Box Charity managed by a local Rotary Club. We regularly run events for this cause.

“Arrangements are under way to fly over 500 of these boxes to the Philippines and distribute them.

“The Water Survival Box is a rigid, reinforced 54-litre plastic container that becomes a receptacle for water when emptied of survival items. It includes a filtration pack including chlorine tablets – enough for a family of four for some four months, plus essential survival items, as well as a basic shelter – via tarpaulin sheet. The box is filled with new items that people who have lost everything would need to survive.”

Leanne Hatt who escaped the island is buoyed by the Art House Cafe’s generosity. She said, “It’s fantastic to see local people supporting something going on so far away and I know it will be greatly appreciated by the people in the Philippines. I want to say thank you to the Art House Cafe myself!”

Melksham company Valldata, which handles the DEC Philippines donations, says it has been the fastest-growing appeal since the 2004 tsunami as £13million was raised nationally in the first 24 hours.

To donate call 03706 060900, send a cheque made payable to DEC Philippines Typhoon Appeal to PO Box 999, London EC3A 3AA or text DONATE to 70000 to make a donation of £5.

Or you can call into the ArtHouse cafe in Melksham Market Place.