Wedding party now a survivors' reunion

14th January 2005 at 00:00
Two teachers due to marry in Sri Lanka the day after the tsunami struck have told The TES about their narrow escape.

Steve Haycock and Wendy Lee, from Colchester, Essex, travelled to Unawatuna, a village on the island's southern coast, with a party of 38 friends and relatives, including seven teachers.

On Boxing Day morning the couple were in bed when they heard screams coming from the nearby beach. They watched in disbelief as the wave swept away Mr Haycock's brother and his girlfriend, eventually pinning them against the floor below. Mr Haycock and Ms Lee frantically tied together bedsheets to save them, until someone on the floor below reached over the balcony and pulled them to safety.

By nightfall all of the wedding party was accounted for, with the exception of fellow Colchester teachers Adrian Howells and Dunica Lintner.

The wedding party, which was being looked after by a Sri Lankan family in the hills, prepared for the worst news about their two teacher friends. Mr Haycock, said: "I really thought we would be looking at their bodies in the morning."

They found Mr Howells, a science teacher, at Philip Morant, and Ms Lintner, a PE teacher at Sir Charles Lucas, sheltering on another part of the mountain the next day. Mr Haycock, said: "It is remarkable that we are all safe and well. You almost feel guilty."

Now home, the couple are still having trouble sleeping and were off school for a week recovering from their ordeal. They plan to marry in Essex later this month.

Miss Lee said: "The wedding seems insignificant now but we had already planned to have a wedding reception at a hotel here to celebrate with all our friends and family at home: it will now also be a survivors' reunion."

The couple have vowed to go back next Christmas to make sure their Sri Lankan friends are OK.

Anyone wishing to give to the Unawatuna Trust Fund can do so at any HSBC branch quoting account number 51344110,sort code 402815.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now