Dig deep to help disaster victims

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CHARITABLE organisations in Morpeth will be taking to the streets to raise funds for disaster-ravaged Japan.

Vast areas of the country have been crippled by a devastating earthquake and tsunami on Friday, which have claimed the lives of thousands of people and destroyed whole communities.

This week they have also faced the threat of nuclear disaster following damage to a power station.

The collection to help the recovery effort has been organised by Morpeth Lions Club member Simon Pringle, who has approached fellow Lions members, local churches, Contact Mental Health, Scouts, Inner Wheel, Rotary and Soroptimists to help out.

He said: “So many of us have been horrified to see news reports of the devastation that has wiped out many communities in Japan. It reminds us of the aftermath of the floods in Morpeth in 2008 when fortunately there was no loss of life.

“The Morpeth voluntary organisations have come together in the past to aid the international relief agencies following the Asian tsunami and the Haiti earthquake. This current disaster combines both catastrophes and the lives of so many of the Japanese population will be permanently affected.

“The people of Morpeth have always risen to the challenge of helping those in need. We hope they will approve of our efforts and not mind our asking yet again for their contributions.”

Last year members of Morpeth Lions, Rotary, Round Table, Red Cross, Ashington Lioness Club and New Life and St Robert’s churches gathered more than £2,000 in a four-hour collection in aid of the Haiti earthquake victims.

The money was sent to the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal, but the work of Lions and Rotary continues on the island.

Both international organisations were involved in Haiti from the outset of the disaster, providing tents and other basic needs, and most recently Lions Clubs International has provided 600 houses for some of the one million homeless living in tented compounds.

It has also signed off a project to rebuild the National Nurses School of Port au Prince, providing $370,000 to cover 27 percent of the total cost of construction and equipment.

Rotary clubs worldwide have sent more than $18m, originally providing shelter boxes of tents, blankets and stoves, and now helping to rebuild schools and hospitals and provide safe water.

The Japan collection will take place in Morpeth on Saturday, from 10am to 3pm. Volunteer collectors should meet 15 minutes before their allotted time at the Contact office side entrance off Bridge Street.

Anyone wishing to help should contact Simon Pringle on 01670 513169 or e-mail simonandjennie@talktalk.net For more information about the work in Haiti contact Mr Pringle or Rotarian Michael Duffy on 01670 513692.