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Saturday, May 04, 2013

UK (Cornwall): Shelterbox

Once a year, the Tregothnan Estate near Truro, Cornwall, opens its gardens to the public. Aside from being being a botanical safe haven for many rare plants and trees, it's the only tea-grower in England. So we visited.

The charity they sponsored this year was Shelterbox. This is a truly brilliant idea, the brainchild of Rotarian Tom Henderson OBE. It's a survival kit packed into a sturdy plastic box, and the stroke of genius was to work backwards from external constraints: what was the most weight two airline baggage handlers would be prepared to carry, and how many boxes could be fitted into a standard steel shipping container.

For £590 a pop, you get this:

Contents can be varied according to need, but the basics include a waterproof tent with raised door (protects against floodwater and creeping creatures), stove with cooking and eating equipment, and most importantly, an ingeniously designed water filter. The filter is to help prevent the outbreak of disease that tends to decimate the survivors of the initial disaster, and it can be flushed out and reused in case of prolonged encampment.

Thousands of these boxes are stored in places around the world, for maximum speed of delivery in emergencies. But the stores need topping up and you can not only sponsor a box but track where it's gone.

Fabulous. I'm contacting them to see if a local Rotarian can do a show and tell for a school; maybe you can do something, too.

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