15th April 2016
A couple who sustained serious injuries in the Boston Marathon bombing have chosen to mark the third anniversary of that awful day with kindness.
Eric and Ann Whalley (nee Richardson), originally from West Cumbria, have donated £10,000 to Cumbria Community Foundation’s Flood Recovery Fund.
They say the generosity shown by fellow west Cumbrians after their devastating injuries helped them significantly on their road to recovery.
They want to repay that kindness and generosity by helping families in Cockermouth, Workington and Flimby affected by the floods.
It’s 27 years since Eric, from Cockermouth, and Ann from Maryport, emigrated to America but they have never forgotten where they grew up or lost their fondness for the area and its people.
Their own personal tragedy three years ago showed them how small the world really is and how strong personal bonds matter when things go wrong. Their sons Richard and Chris turned to social media in the immediate aftermath of the bombing to find their parents and then saw how the American GiveForward fundraising site helped raise £100,000 towards their parents’ huge medical bills.
It also highlighted how significant social media and the internet are today in times of crisis and recovery, something Cumbria Community Foundation has also seen. In the 48 hours after the December floods, fundraising through JustGiving helped raise £100,000 for the appeal.
Eric and Ann have always been keen athletes and liked watching the marathon in their adopted home city in Boston, Massachusetts. On 15 April 2013, they were stood by the finish line when terrorists detonated two bombs which killed three people and injured them and 262 others.
The Whalleys, both 68, spent a total of 76 days in hospital and underwent roughly 20 operations each involving major limb salvage and reconstruction over 12- 24 months. Eric lost the sight in one eye, had eardrum transplant and suffered traumatic shrapnel brain damage. Ann was on a ventilator in the aftermath and also suffered shrapnel and burns injury to her limbs, neck and face.
Both Ann and Eric are private people and their donation, one of the most significant individual ones made, came with a suitably understated message:
“Please find enclosed a donation towards Cumbria Community Foundation’s Flood Recovery Fund. We are ex-pat west Cumbrians now living in Boston, USA. In 2013 we both incurred serious injuries at the Boston Marathon bombings and were so touched by the well wishes, kindness, support and generosity from family, friends and fellow West Cumbrians which helped significantly with our recovery. We are sad to learn about the devastation resulting from the floods in Cumbria and we would like to thank you all by giving forward.”
Andy Beeforth, Chief Executive, Cumbria Community Foundation, said: “Ann and Eric embody the true ‘Spirit of Cumbria’ which we have seen time and again since the terrible floods in December. They didn’t seek any financial support from anyone after they were innocently caught up in the bombing in 2013 but they were hugely touched to see friends, family and relative strangers from west Cumbria digging deep to help them in their hour of need. Now they have made significant steps towards recovery, they want to extend the same hand of kindness to people who are in need of help to recover from the flooding. I was overwhelmed when I received their donation and would like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’ on behalf of every family that will benefit from their kindness,”
Ann and Eric are former pupils of Cockermouth Grammar School. They have immediate family in West Cumbria and Yorkshire.