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Last Updated: Friday, 9 December 2005, 13:02 GMT
'One force of nature overcome by another'
by Anna Lindsay
BBC News, Petersfield

Charlotte Jones firedancing on the evening of Christmas Day
Charlotte Jones firedancing on the evening of Christmas Day 2004

His daughter was enjoying the idyllic calm of life on a Thai island - when in a moment she was swept away by the force of the Boxing Day Tsunami.

Now her father, Alan Jones, is about to make a pilgrimage to the place where 23-year-old Charlotte died.

He is going with thoughts of how to create a lasting tribute.

"It's been a very difficult year," he said, fighting back tears.

"Some families have been out already, or set up websites, but we have just found it too hard."

While on the island of Racha Yai, south of Phuket, Mr Jones, his wife, Elizabeth, and their 19-year-old daughter Vicky, of Petersfield, Hampshire, want to grieve for and remember Charlotte.

One force of nature overcome by another
From a memorial plaque to Charlotte

They believe the most fitting way to do this is to set up a "living tribute", in the form of a memorial fund to help pay for Thai children to go to secondary school.

But its development is still in the early stages; the sense of loss Mr Jones feels is very apparent and he has only just been able to consider a trip to the region to begin work on the project.

"We really are starting from a zero base," he said.

"We have set up a memorial fund, which is approaching 19,000.

Charlotte Jones running a half marathon with her father in 2004
Charlotte ran two half marathons with her father in 2004

"When Charlotte was at university in Bristol she sponsored a girl through her secondary education in Romania, so we thought we'd like to do the same ourselves.

"But we don't know where we're starting yet - we're talking about a different country, a different culture."

Charlotte had not been staying in Thailand long when the Tsunami struck. She arrived after a month in India and hoped to continue her gap year travels to Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand.

Her family is still searching for answers surrounding her death.

This was evident at a four-day mass inquest earlier this week into the deaths of 91 Britons and two foreigners whose bodies were returned to the UK.

A memorial statue placed by Charlotte Jones' friends on Racha Yai
The statue with an Eye of Oris on it - the same as Charlotte's tattoo

Mr Jones asked the coroner if his family would ever know the circumstances in which Charlotte's body - which had drifted at sea for eight days - was found.

He has also criticised the timing of the inquest, which ruled 92 people, including Charlotte, had drowned and a 93rd person died later of his injuries.

The trip to Thailand may help provide some answers but its main purpose is to begin the memorial work.

Charlotte's friends and family have all contributed to the project, which they have named "Char's Fund".

Mr Jones seems overwhelmed by their dedication.

"We had a memorial service earlier in the year," he said.

"Two hundred young adults suddenly appeared - most of them I didn't even know - but they all came for a reason."

Her friends have already placed a memorial statue at the end of Siam Bay, the resort where Charlotte was staying when she died, with an Eye of Oris emblem engraved on it.

Alan Jones
Alan Jones is preparing to leave for Thailand in the next few days

Her father said: "It is the same [emblem] as the tattoo on Charlotte's back that helped identify her."

The friends also held a festival in the summer, raising 1,000, and hope to turn it into an annual event.

Charlotte's childhood friend, Danielle Horn, hopes to trek through India and the Himalayas to raise money, while Mr Jones is preparing to run the Reading and Windsor half marathons.

"Charlotte ran them with me last year," he said.

And in September, a group gathered in a Bristol street to unveil a plaque outside her flat that read: "'Hurricane' Charlie Jones lived here.

"One force of nature overcome by another."

A website has not yet been set up for the memorial fund, but people can pledge donations and support at alan.jones28@virgin.net

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