HEREFORD Wye Valley Rotarians and wives manned a stand at the Sellack Country Fair to demonstrate the help given all over the world, when a disaster occurs, in the form of Rotary Shelter Boxes.

Since the plan was launched in 2001, by the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard in Cornwall, it has grown to a massive registered UK charity with the Duchess of Cornwall as president.

Some 45,000 Shelter Boxes have been sent to 72 disasters in 46 different countries at a cost of more than £20 million, all raised by donations.

A large proportion of this is from Rotary clubs in Great Britain and Ireland (there are 1,845 Rotary clubs in this area with 58,000 members).

Locally, there are two clubs in Hereford with others in Leominster, Ledbury, Newent, Ross-on-Wye and Monmouth. There are 1.21 million Rotarians in 168 countries worldwide and any Rotarian is welcome at every club throughout the world.

Shelter Boxes provide shelter, warmth and comfort for people displaced in disasters.

Each box generally holds a 10-person tent and other materials to help an extended family survive for a minimum of six months. The boxes cost £490 each including distribution worldwide. Each is individually numbered and donors can track where their box is sent to. Shelter Boxes have helped more than 600,000 people, responding to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, conflicts and volcanoes.

Shelter Box works directly with local organisations in the countries where disasters have occurred, in partnership with other aid agencies and through the international Rotary network. The charity’s own volunteer teams often oversee the distribution of boxes to individual recipients making sure aid gets to those people who need it most.

All aid is distributed from the base in Cornwall. The charity is supported by international affiliates set up by Rotary clubs in various other countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and the USA.

By May 9, Shelter Box had successfully delivered £300,000-worth of survival kit to Myamar (Burma) to help victims of Cyclone Nargis and visas for aid workers had been obtained. Aid deliveries continue and, on July 9, a press release confirmed a further 35 tons of aid had arrived in Bangkok on its way to Myamar – a faster response than many organisations and governments that could not gain access for weeks.

China suffered a 7.9-Richter scale earthquake on May 12, and by June 25, more than 4,400 tents had been delivered (they are made in China and were sent direct from the manufacturers), and supplies continue to be sent.