Hero of the Month March 2019

March 27, 2019

Each month we celebrate the weird and wonderful, from people who are key fundraisers in their community, to people with the coolest jobs. People that go outside the norm, swim against the shoal if you will, and do something fun or extraordinary.

This month we spoke to Tim Fudge, an electrician who turned his craft into a tool to aid those most in need after natural disasters had happened. These amazing projects have taken Tim all over the world.

Flood rescue in Carlisle 2015

How did you get into Disaster Relief work?

I was due to be in Sri Lanka over Xmas 2004 but our plans changed and we ended up going in February instead. The place where we were going to spend Christmas was flattened by the tsunami and the few neighbouring homes had been completely emptied by the water, which had washed through almost to ceiling height. My girlfriend and I spent some time using money donated from friends rewiring some of those homes.

Shortly after, while in Thailand, I saw posters asking for volunteers and the adventure really started there. We spent 2 to 3 months in a small village on Phuket, helping to build homes for people who didn't have all the resources to manage by themselves.

Do you work for a specific charity?

I was volunteering with an organisation called Hands On Disaster Response, a small NGO based in Boston. We would evaluate the needs of an affected area and shape the project around those needs liaising with local authorities or other NGOs.

Now I am a member of Wessex Flood Rescue and Boscombe Lifeguards.

Can you tell us a bit more about different disaster relief projects you have worked on?

Since then I have been to several disasters around the world helping communities with demolition, construction/repairs, rubble clearing and anything else that I can help with.

I worked on the following projects:

Thailand - tsunami.

Philippines - typhoon resulting in a massive land slide from a volcano.

Pisco, Peru - earthquake.

Bangladesh - cyclone.

Haiti - field hospital and earthquake response.

New York - Hurricane Sandy.

Nepal - earthquake.

Digging out a house in the Philippines.
dorm in chaos.jpg
Our dorm in Peru before we built beds.
empty living room.jpg
People trying to live a normal life (on the site of their house) - Peru.

Can you tell us any stories about specific families or people you helped with your work?

One person who stands out was a single mum called Noen in Thailand, she had a 9 year old daughter and sold coconut ices to tourists on the beach.

She was a joy to work for and was overgenerous with the little that she had. There were some village celebrations one night and during the party she invited us to another one in the next town. The meal was set up in a garage workshop, I only found out then that the concrete blocks and blanket laid out in a back corner was where her and her daughter were sleeping. She'd often buy us a beer after work instead of getting something that she needed, and refusal wasn't an option she was also very reluctant to accept meals or drinks from us in return.

I have met many inspirational people and often found most people's acceptance of their situation and willingness to make the best of it very humbling. It was rare on any project to hear people complaining about their often life changing losses.

Building Noen's house in Thailand (with Noen).
Our street in Peru.

What does it mean to you to be able to help on these projects?

I love adventurous travel, I am turned off by mainstream tourism and I enjoy helping people who really need it. The adventure of living in unusual places and situations is exciting and getting to know a country and it's people at their lowest point while making a positive impact on their future is a whole different experience. Unusual things like my daily commute driving a bobcat for an hour across rural Haiti, and having somebody smile and shake my hand in gratitude after my team and I have just demolished their home, are a couple of examples of things very different to the normal travel experiences.

Our living conditions were often far better than the local people but we could still be in cramped conditions, sharing 1 or 2 toilets and a shower. Running water and electricity could be off more than on or even non existent and maybe sleeping in a bed or maybe on the ground while surrounded by total devastation is a great way to reset life's expectations and priorities.

The school rebuild that I was in charge of in Peru.
Demolition in Haiti.

What is your day job?

I have my own business as an electrician.

Do you have any future projects on the horizon?

I can't really take long periods off work in one go now so have no plans to travel overseas. I do commit a fair bit of time to a flood rescue team and beach lifeguard club, which give some excitement and adventure while still giving to the community.

What do you do to enjoy your weekends?

I enjoy the outdoors and ocean and share a boat with some friends. I like to surf when I get chance, I also go wake boarding and sea swimming. I also do a fair amount of running and cycling and share a retired race car with a friend which we spend a lot of time working on and use for track days.

We are amazed by how much Tim has helped others in need, we hope he has inspired some of you to use your skills to help others.