Portsmouth called to arms to help thousands of families rocked by devastating volcanic eruption on St Vincent

VETERANS across Portsmouth have joined forces with a military charity as part of a major relief effort to help thousands of families devastated by a volcanic eruption in the Caribbean.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 11:02 am
Image courtesy Zen Punnett shows the eruption of La Soufriere Volcano from Rillan Hill in Saint Vincent, erupting. Photo by Zen Punnet / AFP via Getty Images.

The idyllic island of St Vincent was rocked by the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano on Friday for the first time since 1979.

The blast from the volcano, sent plumes of ash 20,000 feet, destroying personal belongings and wiping out homes.

More than 16,000 people have so far been displaced by the natural disaster, with inhabitant being warned to evacuate the island.

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Ash covered much of the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent on Saturday, and the stench of sulphur filled the air after a series of eruptions from a volcano that had been quiet for decades. The whitish powder caked roads, homes and buildings after the powerful blasts from the volcano called La Soufriere that began Friday and continued into the night. Photo: Zen Punnett/AFP via Getty Images

Now the Royal Naval Association (RNA) has answered a call to arms from a small team of volunteers from the Royal Navy’s Commonwealth Network, who have begun collecting much needed supplies for the relief effort in St Vincent.

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These supplies will be shipped from Southampton to the island in the coming weeks, feeding into the official response from the High Commission of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The RNA will be dedicating their Portsmouth-based minibus to collecting donations from Portsmouth and the surrounding areas on tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, and are urging the local community to get involved.

Lynda Pearson, the welfare programme manager for the Royal Naval Association

Lynda Pearson, the welfare programme manager for the association, said: ‘The association has been working closely with the Royal Navy Commonwealth Network in recent months on the desired establishment of RNA hubs in the Caribbean and other Commonwealth areas, which will offer community and welfare support to the families and friends of sailors who are miles away from home.

‘We are therefore thrilled to be in a position to help the St Vincent community on this emergency welfare initiative.

‘When you’re in the navy, you serve alongside people from across the Commonwealth, with different cultures and backgrounds all united in their shared dedication to the UK armed forces.

‘It’s this unity and comradeship that inspires community initiatives like this collection, especially in times of need. Just because those in need are thousands of miles away, doesn’t mean they are not part of the Royal Naval Association family – especially those with loved ones serving in the Royal Navy.’

The plea comes as the government was told its £200,000 aid funding to the former British colony ‘would not cut it’.

Stressing that more needed to be done, Labour former minister Lord Boateng said: ‘The reality on the ground is of the loss of livelihoods and a continuing threat to life. This is a major environmental and humanitarian emergency, and £200,000 will not cut it.

‘Barbados is taking a lead, and is responsible for the emergency relief in the area, but it is hard pressed and the time has come for this country to act. After all, the prosperity of these islands was based on the labour and sugar of those islands. They deserve more than £200,000.’

People across Portsmouth are being urged to donate key items for the humanitarian drive by the RNA

Top of the list includes dry or tinned goods, towels, blankets, sleeping bags and pillows. First aid kits, face masks and face shields along with pain killers for children and adults are also sought.

Clothing – in particular children’s clothing – are on the list, too, along with torches, batteries, cutlery, plates, bowls, bins, bin liners and board games and books.

To arrange a collection of donations, please email your address and details to Charlie Darlington, communications manager at the RNA – [email protected]

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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