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Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Thursday, 31 December 2009
Tom Henderson OBE
Shelterbox in Sumatra
Shelterboxes can be found all over the world

Shelterbox is a charity now known throughout the world. However its roots are very much in Cornwall.

In 1999 Tom Henderson, a Rotarian and former Royal Navy search and rescue diver started thinking about Shelterbox.

He saw the aid response to most disasters was in the form of food and medicine.

But Tom also noted there was very little assistance given in terms of proper shelter.

So Tom Henderson's idea of Shelterbox was born.

Tom Henderson OBE
Tom Henderson set up Shelterbox in 1999

As a Rotarian Tom already had lots of contacts so he started sourcing equipment and twisting arms to get his dream off the ground. His persistence paid off.

At the start of the new century the Rotary Club of Helston-Lizard adopted Tom's idea as its millennium project.

Just nine months later Shelterbox's first consignment of 143 boxes was sent to earthquake victims in the Indian state of Gujarat in January 2001.

By the end of 2004 nearly 2,600 boxes had been dispatched, following 16 major disasters.

Shelterboxes are made in Helston and shipped throughout the world

However days later Shelterbox was to face its biggest demand so far. On 26 December 2004, news came of the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami.

Donations and volunteers poured in and the Cornish charity was able to increase its operations on a scale unimaginable just six months earlier.

By 2005 Shelterbox sent out more than 22,000 boxes, almost 10 times the number the volunteers had dispatched in the previous three years. Tom Henderson's dream emerged as a major player in the field of international disaster relief.

Shelterbox volunteers delivering boxes

Shelterbox has helped more than 700,000 people affected by disaster in more than 50 countries.

Each green Shelterbox contains a 10-person tent and other essential equipment to help a family survive for six months.

It's not the first time that Tom Henderson's charitable efforts have been recognised.

Back in June 2009 he was awarded the Trelawny Plate in recognition of his contribution to Cornwall. The special award is given every two years.

Sir John Trelawny said at the time: "The news the panel had unanimously selected Tom Henderson was no surprise and I was delighted. Shelter Box was always an inspired idea, bringing timely and practical help to people in extreme need without political or financial strings attached."

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