Thailand tsunami orphans visit Staffin

A GROUP of orphans, who survived the devastating Asian tsunami, enjoyed a visit to Staffin this week.

The Boxing Day disaster on 26 December 2004 saw a tsunami hit Indonesia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka. It left death and destruction on an unprecedented scale, with the death toll estimated at 250,000 people.

Two days later police and forensic specialists from 40 countries travelled to Thailand to help with the vast human tragedy and identified more than 4,600 victims in the southern region. One of the of the officers sent was Thames Valley Police’s Gill Williams, who now lives in Waternish with husband Ian.

Gill and one of her police colleagues were shocked at the huge number of children who had lost both parents and decided to set up a charity called Hands Across the Water UK which raised money to build a permanent home for the youngsters, who were mostly living in tents.

Seven orphans from the Baan Tharn Namchai Orphanage came to Staffin on Monday as part of a trip to Skye and, despite the cold weather, walked around the Quiraing and Kilt Rock and demanded their pictures taken! They also had an enjoyable visit to the Staffin Museum at Elishadder where Sylvia Porter showed them around. The wide-eyed children struggled to take in how big the famous dinosaur footprints found at Staffin Beach were and how old they were. They were given some fossilised cockle shells to show their brothers and sisters at the orphanage back in Thailand.

The group then headed to the Home Farm nursing home in Portree where the residents were treated to their rendition of the “Skye Boat Song.” Gill, who is now retired from the police, organises the trip each year. Every year a group of kids come to Skye as a reward for good behaviour paid for by Hands Across the Water. If you want to donate to the charity, or find out more, then visit