Woman from Derby who has lost home in Virgin Islands disaster wants to help others in despair

This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.

A woman from Derby who has had a holiday home in the Virgin Islands for 20 years is on a mission to help locals following the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Diana Renshaw, who lives on Dean Street in Derby city centre, has lost her island home following the natural disaster but she says her focus is to help others who lives have been torn apart by the killer storm.

The 68-year-old told the Derby Telegraph she would often spend the winter months each year staying at the Virgin island resort of Tortola - one of its biggest destinations - which she described as a “stunning” place to live.

Derby resident Diana Renshaw outside her Virgin Islands home in Tortola - now destroyed by Hurricane Irma - wants people to raise funds to help people in the torn-apart area

Derby resident Diana Renshaw outside her Virgin Islands home in Tortola - now destroyed by Hurricane Irma - wants people to raise funds to help people in the torn-apart area

The retired social care worker had a wooden home on the coast which was built from scratch many years ago. Along with many other properties on the islands, it was destroyed by Irma.

She is now in the process of setting up her own fund-raising campaign where people can donate vital funds to support people in desperate need.

“My focus is to help hundreds of people on the islands who have been left with nothing.

“Yes I've lost my home but I’m lucky as I have got a house here in Derby as well - but there are people whose lives are in pieces.

“It’s been gutting to see what has happened. I’ve done a lot of crying. It’s a wonderful place to live and the communities there are so special. Everybody will be pulling together because that’s the kind of place it is.

“I want to raise awareness of the state the Islands are in. People know about what's happened in Florida but do they know about the Virgin Islands?”

Mrs Renshaw, who said most of her belongings were back in her Derby home, also plans to revisit the Islands in a few months time to help with the relief effort.

On Monday the Derby Telegraph reported how newly-wed Derby couple Michael and Jade Scott were left with nothing after their home was destroyed by the deadly hurricane.

Tortola is one of the largest areas of the British Virgin Islands

Tortola is one of the largest areas of the British Virgin Islands

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson recently announced a £42m fund which will be sent to help those stranded in the British territories of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos.

“The UK government is doing everything it possibly can to help those affected by the hurricane,” Mr Johnson said.

Also calling for help is Virgin owner and billionaire Sir Richard Branson who owns one of the islands. In a recent blog he called for people in the torn-apart islands to stay safe.

He said: "The British Virgin Islands need an enormous amount of help to recover from the widespread devastation.

"Our thoughts are with all the people and regions hit by Hurricane Irma, and all those in the US communities currently facing the storm.

"What makes the Virgin Islands unique is its isolated location – every island has been devastated, so there is no support to come from nearby. We must get more help to the islands to rebuild homes and infrastructure and restore power, clean water and food supplies."

Mrs Renshaw's own online campaign is in the process of being set up but in the meantime people can donate money by visiting the fund-raising page here.