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Tsunami survivor runs marathon to say thank you

19 April 2012

Louise Harrand (38) from York is running the Virgin London Marathon on 22 April to raise money for the British Red Cross, seven years after the organisation helped her in the aftermath of the Boxing Day tsunami. This is her story:

I was on honeymoon with my husband, Greg, on the idyllic island of Ko Phi Phi in Thailand, when the tsunami struck.
It was chaos. People were running around screaming: “Water! Water! Get high up!” We tried to climb up a staircase at the side of the hotel, but there was a bottleneck. There was nothing we could do.
Then the first wave hit. I was immediately separated from Greg and found myself caught deep under the water, surrounded by bodies, tables, fridges and debris. I remember thinking: “I’m going to die, there’s no way I can get out of this.” But at the last possible moment I came up. A couple of guys hauled me onto a rooftop and later took me to a nearby hotel.

Helpful and reassuring

I survived with a fractured cheekbone, broken ribs and cuts across my face. Greg and I were reunited after a kind German tourist went into the streets, calling his name. Finally he found him, wearing only a sarong. The force of the water had stripped him naked and his feet were badly lacerated. 
We were taken first to Phuket International Hospital and then to a private hospital in Bangkok, where the British Red Cross visited us. I had completely shut down by this point, but they were so helpful and reassuring.

They gave us some basic provisions and a letter confirming we were British nationals, as we had lost everything, including our passports. Three days after the disaster, a Red Cross worker helped us get home, securing an ambulance to take us to the airport. With his help, we got on the next flight to the UK.

A good way to say thank you

Seven years and three children later, I’m training to run the London Marathon. I’m hoping to raise at least £2,000 for the Red Cross. It’s going really well and seemed like a good way of saying thank you, while fulfilling a personal challenge.

Unless you have survived something like the tsunami, you cannot imagine the sheer scale of what organisations like the Red Cross are faced with. Their support helped us enormously and I am doing the marathon to raise as much money as possible to help people in similar situations.

Greg and I have an amazing bond. We are always aware bad things can happen when you least expect them, so we live life to the full and enjoy our beautiful children. We were so close to losing each other and were extremely fortunate not to. If we can survive the tsunami together, we can get through anything.

To sponsor Louise visit her fundraising page

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