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10 May 2005 PR 05/35

Helping to build a new life for tsunami victims

A Loughborough University student has taken part in a special mission to help build a boat for a fisherman living on the tsunami-hit coast of India.

Emma Dutton, who is studying for a degree in Electronic and Electrical Engineering, is part of the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS). The scheme has been set up by the MOD to support sponsored students studying for engineering and science degrees, all of whom are committed to become officers in one of the services (Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Civil Service).

As a member of the DTUS Emma has to take part in various training exercises during her studies, and the boat-building project gave her an excellent opportunity to use her engineering skills to help others.

Emma, along with 12 other DTUS students from Aston and Southampton universities and two DTUS staff, stayed in the Indian town of Cochin during the exercise. The nine-metre boat they built was presented to a local beneficiary who was selected from a list of names provided by churches in the area.

During the project the students were also taken to Kollum on the west coast of India to see for themselves the devastation the tsunami caused. Here they met with local people who are still trying to rebuild their lives following the tragedy. Another key part of the trip was a visit to the Prathiasha Bhauan (House of Hope) Orphanage, a Christian mission run by the Salesian Sisters, which is affiliated with the British High Commission in Delhi. The cadets helped teach the children English and cash left over from the boat-building exercise was used to buy new textbooks for the orphanage.

Speaking about the experience, Emma said: “The project was definitely the best experience of my life, and it felt as if I was doing something really important. The day we went to Kollum is a day that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I spoke to a local man on the beach who told me how he lost his wife, son, daughter and sister in the tsunami.

“It was incredibly rewarding spending time with the children at the orphanage, and I started to develop real friendships with them. They were all so loving and kind, and would swarm to you when you entered the room, always wanting to hold your hand or just be attached to you by way of a limb or a hand full of t-shirt. It was very hard to say goodbye.

“I learnt a lot from the experience, not just about military training exercises, but about personal development, Indian culture, boat construction and sailing. But most of all I realised how lucky I am, and seeing the devastation from the tsunami certainly put things into perspective.”

Wing Commander Keith Pearce, who is based at Loughborough University and is responsible for its DTUS cadets, added: “I am delighted Emma was able to take part in this project and proud with what her, and all the other DTUS students have achieved. I am sure she will have got a lot out of experience and put both her engineering and military skills to excellent use.”

Ends

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Notes to editors

  1. Loughborough University was chosen to take part in the Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS) in October 2004. Selected students for the DTUS join the Typhoon Squadron at the University, where they are mentored throughout their academic study to help them develop the skills and attributes they will need to fulfil their long-term commitment to the services. In return for its support, the MOD will recruit high quality qualified engineers, who are ready to assist the military in its work across the world.
  2. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 45% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; and for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development.

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