“Without him, I don’t know how we would have coped.”
Lee Stocker is talking about Dr Howie Fine, a British Red Cross psychological and emotional support volunteer.
Lee’s parents Janet and John Stocker were among the 38 people killed during the beach attack in Sousse, Tunisia, two years ago.
To remember his parents and those who died, and to say thank you for Red Cross support, 38-year-old Lee is running the London Marathon.
“When we first found out what had happened, it was very confusing. We had never been through anything like that before,” said Lee, who works for the Post Office.
“When we arrived in Tunisia, Howie from the British Red Cross met us off the coach.”
Howie is one of more than 70 Red Cross psychosocial support volunteers who provide emotional, psychological and practical support to Britons caught up in crises abroad.
“It was nice to know someone was there to help us along. It was comforting to know he was there for us. He helped us to make sense of it,” added Lee.
On standby around the clock, the Red Cross team supports people to deal with their feelings and to cope with the practical demands of their situation.
“Some of our volunteers are psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers,” said Dr Sarah Davidson, who is head of psychosocial support for the British Red Cross.
“Others are generalists who have experience in working with people supported by our services.
“Volunteers must be ready to fly out to the scene of a crisis or disaster within six hours and will stay there for up to two weeks.
“The work is deeply moving. Volunteers need to be in touch with the profound sadness people are feeling. It is really humbling for us, but it’s very protective to have a sense of being able to help.”
For Lee and his siblings, Howie’s support made a big difference.
“He was there all day, all the time, making sure we were in control of our emotions and telling us it was perfectly normal to feel as we were,” Lee said.
“We were being moved around all the time and sleeping two hours a night.
“But he was always looking after us when no one else was, asking how we were. It was nice to know that someone was on our team, who was there to help us as a family.”
Running the London Marathon
“When we came back to the UK, we never forgot that and we always wanted to find a way of giving something back,” Lee added.
“And I thought what better way to do it than by running one of the most iconic races in the world.”
The London Marathon will be Lee’s first marathon. He has previously only ever run a 10k race and has had just four months to train after injuring his knee a few months ago.
Lee will run the marathon wearing a bracelet that belonged to his father, with a charm for each of the 30 British nationals who lost their lives in the attack.
“Although we were only with Howie for a short time, I’ll always remember his advice. It’s stayed with me, during the memorial service last year and even today,” said Lee.
- You can sponsor Lee here
- Find out how the Red Cross provides psychological and emotional support after crises at home and abroad
- Please give to our Disaster Fund so we can be ready to respond to crises wherever and whenever they happen
- Why runners should learn first aid
- Good luck to everyone running the London Marathon!