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'Very proud' Shelterbox founder wins prestigious Beacon Prize

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: November 21, 2008

ShelterBox founder Tom Henderson. Picture: Colin Higgs/CIoSP

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SHELTERBOX founder and chief executive officer Tom Henderson has joined the ranks of Sir Bob Geldof and Jamie Oliver by winning a prestigious Beacon Prize.

Tom received the Beacon Fellowship Charitable Trust's award for new initiatives at an award ceremony in London for his work in the charitable sector.

ShelterBox has helped more than 700,000 victims of disasters in 50 countries since Tom founded it in 2000.

He is responsible for developing the green boxes which contain a 10-person tent and other essential equipment to help a family survive for at least six months.

Tom is one of six recipients of the 2008 Beacon Prize and joins famous names such as Sir Bob Geldof, Jamie Oliver and environmentalist, Zac Goldsmith who have all been recognised for their charitable work through what has become known as the Nobel Prize of the charity world, first coined by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Tom first presented his idea of ShelterBox to his Rotary Club in Helston.

Since then he has driven the idea forward through a worldwide network of communication hubs near every potential disaster site via Rotary International. This means ShelterBoxes can respond to a disaster within 72 hours anywhere in the world.

In January 2001 the first 146 ShelterBoxes were flown to earthquake-hit Gujurat in India. By late 2004 Tom and his team had raised £1 million and the project had distributed about 2,000 boxes to disaster areas around the world, assisting 20,000 people.

The tsunami on December 26 2004 marked the rapid expansion of the charity's work. Early success in delivering aid to the East Coast of Sri Lanka led to high media interest and a dramatic increase in donations.

In the following four months, £8 million of aid was delivered to those in need. The charity has raised and distributed more than £25 million in aid worldwide.

Martyn Lewis, former chairman of Beacon, said: "What is so striking about Tom Henderson's achievement is the combination of a brilliant idea with enormously successful delivery and development.

"His drive is quite remarkable – taking an idea from a presentation to a local Rotary Club in 2000 to an £8 million disaster relief project for those suffering terribly in the 2004 tsunami."

Tom said: "I am very proud of what we at ShelterBox have achieved in co-operation with our very supportive fund-raisers, donors and partners.

"The public have played a great role through their generosity and we have shown that together we can rise to the challenge when disaster strikes.

"When we receive more funding, we have the infrastructure and connections to help so many more people.

"I also hope that this Beacon award demonstrates to others that if they see their ideas through, it is possible to help a great number of people.

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported us over the years and helped make ShelterBox a success."

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    LIZ CLEVES, North Cornwall  |  November 23 2008, 10:52AM

    Shelter Box is a brilliant charity. The way it works is fantastic. It stretches out to all corners of the earth. It's development from one man's idea shows that 'ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE'. I think that this is truly inspiring.