Minister's family in tsunami horror

By Stuart Welham A MORLEY priest is this week mourning the loss of 30 members of his family in the Tsunami disaster, which struck the Indian Ocean.

Fifty-four-year-old Rev Thurairajah Samuel (pictured right), superintendent minister of the Morley Methodist Circuit, is a native of Sri Lanka, one of the countries worst hit by the under-sea earthquake, thought to be the worst natural penomenon in centuries.

The quake, which sent tidal waves crashing over beaches, also destroyed the Eden Garden orphanage in Rev Samuel's birthplace, Thirukovil, in Eastern Province, which he helped establish six years ago.

All 60 children died, together with members of staff. Other casualties included a Hindu temple, where all the clergy were killed, and an Anglican church, where the priest died.

The Rev Sam, as he is best known, went down to London with his wife, Hilda, on Friday, to sort out family matters with and find out the latest news from the Sri Lankan High Commission.

On his return he spoke to the Advertiser: "In my birthplace alone, 1,000 people died.

"It must have been absolutely terrifying. Apparently, the first wave was of normal proportions, the second much higher and the third went beyond the height of palm trees.

"I have lost 30 members of my family, including 14 under the age of fourteen. I feel so sad about the loss of the orphanage.

"I worked so hard helping to set it up and it was a lovely place. Luckily, some villagers had gone to Sunday worship some two miles from the beach. They survived.

"Now we must do whatever we can to re-build what has been lost, and I shall be working tirelessly to raise money towards that end."

A collection at Sunday morning service at Central Methodist Church in Morley brought in 700 for the Tsunami Appeal.

A coffee morning and bring and buy sale will be held at Morley Town Hall on Saturday, January 15, between 10.30am and 1pm, and it is hoped to hold an inter-denominational service in the Town Hall on Sunday, January 16, at 2pm.

"What I hope to do," said Sam, "is to join all churches and communities in a common cause.

"For the coffee morning and bring and buy sale, we would welcome, in additional to financial donations, gifts of most of all cotton clothing as they are badly needed back home. I have been really heartened by the show of public support for the appeal."

Anyone wishing to make donations, and unable to get to either of the two events, should contact Brian Scarth at Halcyon, Parkway, Gildersome LS27 7DZ. Tel 0113 2534476.