Engineer's mercy mission

MOVED by the plight of the tsunami victims, portworker Steven Proctor has jacked his job in and today flown out to Asia on an emergency mission.Mr Proctor, who worked in the engineering workshop at Felixstowe port, was initially told by his bosses he could have two months off to help with the relief work in the disaster area.

MOVED by the plight of the tsunami victims, portworker Steven Proctor has jacked his job in and today flown out to Asia on an emergency mission.

Mr Proctor, who worked in the engineering workshop at Felixstowe port, was initially told by his bosses he could have two months off to help with the relief work in the disaster area.

But after managers changed their minds, he was left so angry he decided to quit and go anyway.

The 29-year-old was due to land in Thailand today to help with the clean-up operation, and search for friends he has not heard from since the earthquake sent the tidal wave sweeping through the area. He is paying for the trip.


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"I asked if I could go to help and was told I could have two months but obviously would not be paid, which is fair enough and my job would be here when I got back," said Mr Proctor, of St Andrew's Road, Felixstowe.

"Then the next day the manager says there has been a change and I cannot go because a group of workers were going to Las Vegas on holiday for a week.

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"Even though only one of them was on my shift, they would not let me go. My colleagues said they would cover my shifts for me, but it made no difference."

Mr Proctor, who has been working at the port for the past 18 months, handed in his notice and then walked out.

He plans to meet up with friends in Thailand and then travel with the army to the holiday resort of Phuket, which was smashed by the waves.

"I don't know what I will be able to do but I am willing to do anything I can to help - my background is in engineering and air conditioning, so I might be able to help get things up and running, work on temporary hospitals," he said.

"Until I get there I won't know what I will be doing. From what we have seen on the TV it is a scene of devastation with so much to do."

He was also hoping to find information on friends he had not heard from since the disaster.

"I am worried about people I know out there - some are OK, but I just don't about others," he said.

A port spokesman said the company had been unable to release Mr Proctor for leave of absence due to a "particularly heavy" period of holiday commitment.

n Port owner Li Ka-shing has sent a £1.6 million donation to help the relief effort, the money given by Hutchison Whampoa Limited (HWL) and the Li Ka-shing Foundation.

The port has also waived all port charges on a number of shipments of aid going to the disaster area.

What do you think of Mr Proctor's actions? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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