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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 15:17 GMT 16:17 UK
Award for tsunami warning pupil
Tilly Smith
Tilly recognised the signs from a video on an Hawaiian tsunami
A schoolgirl who raised the alarm to save about 100 tourists from the 26 December tsunami has been honoured.

Tilly Smith, 11, from Oxshott, Surrey, spotted key signs in the sea in Phuket, Thailand, that she remembered from a geography lesson two weeks earlier.

She persuaded her parents, seven-year-old sister and other tourists to flee their beach and hotel.

When the tsunami struck, no-one was killed on that beach. Tilly received an award from the Marine Society.

It is the UK's largest maritime charity and encourages young people to consider a career with the sea services.

'Bubbling sea'

The tsunami killed at least 200,000 people in 13 countries.

Tilly has praised her geography teacher Andrew Kearney, who showed her class at Danes Hill Prep School a video of a tsunami in Hawaii.

I said, 'Seriously, there is definitely going to be a tsunami'
Tilly Smith

She said: "I noticed that when we went down to the sea the sea was all frothy like on the top of a beer. It was bubbling."

"I was having visions from the Hawaiian videos that I had seen two weeks before."

She told her mother, who had helped with her geography homework, and her father, who alerted a security guard.

Hotel refuge

Tilly said: "Me and my mum were down on the beach away from the hotel. I was hysterical.

"I was screaming, I didn't want to leave my mum in case it would come.

"I said, 'Seriously, there is definitely going to be a tsunami' but we were walking further and further away from the hotel.

"I went, 'Right, I'm going to leave you, I know there is going to be a tsunami'. My mum was taking it in more."

Patong Beach, Phuket, the day after the Tsunami
The wave killed thousands in and around Phuket

The family took refuge in the hotel with the wave only minutes away.

Her mother, Penny, said she was proud of her daughter's quick thinking, as she herself had not seen the danger signs.

"I just thought that it was a bad day at the beach, it was very unusual," she said.

"Tilly just started going on about this froth on the sea and started getting hysterical, saying that she had seen a video about the one in Hawaii in 1946."

A spokesman from Tilly's school said it was proud of the 11-year-old and her teacher Andrew.

He added: "He is very proud of the fact that Tilly was able to put in practice something that he had taught her."

Tilly received the Thomas Gray Special Award from Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent on Friday.

A second award, the Thomas Gray silver medal, was presented to Reverend Stephen Miller of the Mission to Seafarers for his work with stranded seamen.




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