In February this year, Old Challoner George Burke had the misfortune to find himself in the path of Cyclone Winston, one of the most powerful tropical storms to have hit the South Pacific in recent years, while volunteering in Fiji. The storm caused widespread destruction, killing 44 people and leaving tens of thousands homeless. While George and the rest of his volunteering group emerged unscathed, his experience affected him deeply.

Following the success of the recent Think Pacific charity day, an organisation which has been active in the aftermath of the cyclone, George returned to Challoner’s to recount his experiences. Beginning by talking about his volunteer work, George gave a detailed eye-witness account of the cyclone, using some of his own photographs and video footage to illustrate the storm’s awful power.

Recounting experiences

Despite the devastation it caused, Cyclone Winston was not greatly covered by the UK media and, consequently, the plight of the people of Fiji and other South Pacific nations is unfamiliar to many people here. George’s talk not only powerfully illustrated the terror of being caught up in such a powerful natural disaster, but also outlined the lack of help that has been given by the UK to the affected areas.


In September, George will begin studying geography at the University of Southampton, but after that he hopes to return to Fiji and continue helping the people that he set out to help earlier this year.