Blackboys man supports typhoon victims

River of silver
River of silver

As TV images of the horrific damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan fill our TV screens, two individuals from East Sussex are working to help victims piecing their lives together in the Philippines.

James Burke, 40, from Blackboys, was holding a business conference in the Cebu province when the typhoon struck. Eightly kilometres south of the city of Tacloban - one of the worst hit areas - James was part of an immediate relief effort organised by the Shangri-La Mactan Resort in Cebu.

James commented: “Even though we weren’t in the eye of the storm it was extremely hard to fathom first-hand the scenes of devastation caused by it. We were all part of the initial relief effort co-ordinated by the hotel that involved putting together food parcels to provide for 2,000 families in the surrounding areas.”

Humbled by his experience, James, whose children Talitha, 11, and Teddy, five, attend Skippers Hill Manor School near Five Ashes, wanted to tell the story to its 160 pupils and help a special assembly last Friday. Inspired, the children undertook their own fundraising effort by creating a River of Silver - a line of silver coins connecting one classroom to the next.

All the money raised - over £1,000 to date - will be put into a special fund set up to buy more supplies for those affected and that involves no administration costs or red tape.

Head teacher Tim Lewis said: “We are so grateful to James for taking the time to talk to the pupils about his experience. It is important children are given an honest account of worldwide affairs and crises. Encouraging them to fundraise and making them realise they are able to help is an invaluable lesson in life.”

To donate please visit the Disasters Emergency Committee website at:

Now a former Sussex Air Ambulance doctor has flown to the Philippines to help typhoon victims. Dr Amy Hughes and Professor Tony Redmond are leading a 12-strong UK medical and surgical team from the UK International Emergency Trauma Register.

They arrived in Manila on November 14 before heading south west to Cebu.

Dr Hughes is among the first British medics on the scene and along with her team will be using her specialist skills in emergency medicine to benefit survivors who need treatment.