Big-hearted Lutonians rally round to aid victims of St Vincent volcano blast

Big-hearted Lutonians have rallied round to help people on the other side of the world left destitute by a volcanic eruption.

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 6:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 6:44 pm
(Left to right), Kandi Sharma, Shirley Small, Ryan Lewis, Aiden Lewis, Bernie Abby, Kaleem Lewis, Melodie Nanton and Ken Young with two vans of donations received in 48 hours

On April 9, 4,000ft volcano La Soufrière erupted on the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent after laying dormant for more than 40 years.

Over 12,000 people have been made homeless and it could take up to a year to restore the island’s water supply.

In Luton, Kandi Sharma learned that charity Vincy Alliance Mas was collecting donations for St Vincent but did not have a base in our town.

Kandi's home was "crammed" with quality donations to help the St Vincent appeal

In addition, the charity had no means to transport goods from Luton to its depot at High Wycombe - with just 48 hours to spare.

Undeterred, Kandi promised to round up contributions in Luton and then drive them to the depot herself .

Kandi said: “I shared a video explaining to everyone that we had 48 hours to get in as many donations as possible.

“What happened next was nothing short of amazing!

“I received calls, texts and inbox messages from those wanting to help as much as they could.

“What began as a car boot’s worth of donations became a van’s worth of donations.

"On the morning that we were due to drive it all to the base in High Wycombe, we realised we needed two vans!

“Every single person who lent themselves to assist was astonished by the amount of good donations I had crammed into my one-bed apartment.”

People from across Bedfordshire donated food, clothing, bedding, toiletries, toys, nappies and baby formula and also offered to pay for fuel and transport, in addition to “muscle power” helping Kandi fill the two vans.

Kandi recorded her 48-hour adventure and it has been shared on social media by Mayor of Luton, Cllr Maria Lovell, as well as BBC Three Counties Radio.

“The community effort has been amazing and will never be forgotten,” she said. “Luton is an absolute force to be reckoned with and we achieve greatness when we work together.”