Concert to raise cash for Chile earthquake survivors

A MANUDEN resident caught up in one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded is urging people to attend a concert to raise money for her homeland.

Carmen Gloria Heap was visiting family in her native Chile in February when a quake struck, measuring 8.5 on the Richter scale.

About 800 miles of Chile suffered catastrophic damage and the strength was so intense that experts believe the axis of the earth was moved by eight centimetres, changing the geography of South America.

Many thousands of people were left homeless, including many of Mrs Heap’s family.

“The two towns where my family comes from were 90 per cent destroyed,” she said.

“Both my grandparents’ houses and those of several uncles and aunts collapsed although, fortunately, no-one was hurt.

“I was visiting my family and we were staying in a 15th-floor flat in Santiago. When I came back to England, some of my friends asked if I felt the earthquake.

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“It was 8.5 on the Richter scale and lasted over three minutes where I was. It was like being in a cocktail shaker, not knowing when this would stop or whether the building would collapse. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

“Honestly, I thought that it was the end. I felt terrible anguish of thinking that I did not have time to say goodbye to my children – but I am still here.”

Having survived the traumatic event, Mrs Heap now wants as many people as possible to support a concert being held next week, all the proceeds of which will be going to the Chilean earthquake appeal.

Manuden Singers – of which her husband, Peter, is a member – is holding the annual picnic concert at Wilford House Gardens in Bishop’s Stortford on Sunday July 25.

“I know it was only in the news for one or two days here but it has had a devastating effect,” said Mrs Heap. “I want to help my poor country and its people and that is why I am so grateful to Ian and Teresa Priest and the Manuden choir that they will give all the profit from their picnic concert to the earthquake appeal.

“It would be lovely to see many people there. I know for sure that on the other side of the world, there will be many people grateful for the support.”

The concert, which will see the choir perform music from Gilbert and Sullivan as well as other pieces, starts at 6.30pm. Tickets are �10 for adults and �5 for children. For more information call 01279 812 157.