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Tsunami orphans sing at Gerry Anderson's grave in tribute to the man who kept their plight in the public eye

By Ivan Little

Published 21/04/2015

Yesterday’s emotional gathering at the graveside of tsunami orphans supporter Gerry Anderson
Yesterday’s emotional gathering at the graveside of tsunami orphans supporter Gerry Anderson
Gerry’s wife Christine with Willie Gregg and one of the orphans
Gerry Anderson

Seven Thai children from a tsunami orphanage, who are in Northern Ireland to say thanks for the generosity of people here who are funding their education, have paid a moving tribute to the late Radio Ulster star Gerry Anderson.

The Stroke City presenter, who died last August, was a massive supporter of the orphans and with his widow Christine and daughter Kirsty by their side the children spent an emotional 45 minutes by his grave in the City Cemetery in Londonderry.

Gerry regularly promoted the cause of the Portrush-based charity which has raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Baan Than Namchai orphanage in Phuket since the tsunami devastated the area 10 years ago.

Hundreds of children who lost their parents have been cared for at the home supported by a number of charities including Willie's Orphan Fund who have dedicated themselves to paying for their education and providing medical facilities.

Willie Gregg, the man behind Willie's Orphan Fund, said officials from the orphanage were keen that the visiting children should show their gratitude to Gerry.

So they drove from their base in Portrush to Derry and, with the blessing of Gerry's family, not only laid flowers on his grave but, in keeping with a Thai tradition, also scattered petals before singing the 'anthem' of the orphanage in his honour too. "Stay the Way You Are" was written by Coleraine man Uel Walls and another group of orphans had sung it live on Gerry's popular morning radio show during a trip in 2012.

Yesterday the Thai youngsters made a recording of the song for a Christmas fund-raiser at a studio in Ballymoney.

Willie Gregg said he was glad the children had been able to pay their respects to Gerry Anderson.

Willie, who's the manager of the Harbour Bar in Portrush, added: "Gerry was a massive champion of the charity. No matter how many times I plagued him to mention us on his show he was only too happy to help us out. He was instrumental in the charity's success because every time he put me on air I got pledges of regular donations from right across Northern Ireland."

The director of the orphanage, Rotjana Phraesrithong, who met Gerry during that 2012 visit to the BBC Radio Foyle studios, said: "It was important for us to show our gratitude to a great man. It was very emotional for everyone."

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