On 26th December 2004, the world watched in horror as images of a devastating tsunami swept outwards from the epicenter of an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. The wave arrived on the West coast of Thailand and crashed its way inland, killing or injuring all in its deadly path. Residents of Koh Samui shared the horror with the rest of the world, but a group of them, members of Rotary Club of Koh Samui, ROCKS, immediately vowed to do something to help those stricken by the disaster.
President Paul Hawkins initially concerned himself with sending valuable assistance to a partner club in Patong Beach, Phuket. Personal items, food, building materials all made their way to beleaguered colleagues. Paul also set up a Bank Account dedicated to Tsunami Relief predicting that there would be an influx of donors, both within the Koh Samui populace and from around the world. How right he was.
President Paul met with his club at their regular club meeting on 5th January 2005. He proposed that ROCKS should stage a concert to raise funds for this worthy cause, and with the proceeds, target a community on the west coast that could directly benefit from the aid. He stated that the concert should happen as quickly as possible so that relief could be used as quickly as possible. He further proposed that the date of the concert should be 15th January, exactly 10 days away.
By the end of the club meeting, a special meeting to plan the concert had been arranged for the next day. Rotarian Linda Cartlidge, an experienced event organiser, was to head a committee of willing volunteers, and they would meet virtually every day until the concert was held.
The committee duly swung into action and very soon a list of entertainers was put into place, likewise a list of hoteliers willing to donate feed and beverages, and indeed prepare them. Beverage suppliers agreed to sponsor all drinks, and most importantly, a venue was chosen in the heart of Chaweng, in the Night Plaza, where a stage was already in place. The concert was scheduled to run from 2pm until 2am the following morning. A cohort of non-Rotarian volunteers were enlisted to help man the various outlets, including the sale of specially designed T shirts depicting a tsunami wave. Over the 10 days available, everything fell into place, with enormous goodwill by all those asked to help.
The 15th January dawned bright and sunny, and Rotarians and helpers descended on the Night Plaza to set everything up for the event. Sound engineers checked out the sound systems, and a Green Room was prepared for the entertainers, the list of whom read like a ‘Who’s Who’s of popular singers and bands on Koh Samui; Ovada Show Band, Flow, Ritchie Newton, Inferno Show Band to name but a few. The stage show would be MC’ed by Ricky Zen and Christy Elmendorp.
With a slightly delayed start to make sure that everything was I perfect order, the concert opened. Rotarians and volunteers alike were soon rushed off their feet selling food and beverage vouchers, raffle tickets and T shirts. Top hotels on the Island, such as Zazen, Central and le Meridien provided tasty food, for hungry visitors, and Singha beer and other beverages flowed freely. Money poured in, with willing visitors paying over the asking price for the designer T shirts.
At midnight, President Paul Hawkins went on stage to call for a minute’s silence to honour those who had died on that tragic day, 26th December 2004. Afterwards he spoke eloquently of the need to find a community which could be helped with the proceeds of the concert, and any other monies received for this most worthy of causes. Then the Ovada Show Band began to play ‘We are the World’ to the hushed audience.
By the end of the night, ROCKS, its helpers and sponsors had raised 1.2 million baht.