500 lanterns will mark tsunami victim’s birthday in Caister

HUNDREDS of lanterns are set to be released into the skies over Caister to mark the milestone 30th birthday of local tsunami victim James Hurren.

The 22-year-old backpacker was staying on the Thai island of Phi Phi, near Phuket, when he was swept to his death in the Boxing Day disaster seven years ago.

His father Dale Hurren, hopes up to 500 paper wish lanterns will be lit on March 17 in a spectacular display drifting for miles.

The event aims to provide people with a 'beautiful and magical' way of remembering loved ones and also to capture some of James' traveller spirit, Mr Hurren said, adding: 'It will be a very special evening to be part of.'

Mr Hurren, 53, said he had had a good response already and was confident of achieving two to three hundred on the day but would like to double that to create a truly spectacular and moving sight.

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He said the pain of losing James had not eased and if anything was getting worse as the years of not-seeing and not-talking to his son heaped up upon each other.

For a time he had found some comfort in raising money for tsunami orphans and re-visiting the country where James met his death. But it had become too much to bear.

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However he was determined what would have been his son's 30th birthday should not slip by unmarked and was organising the lantern release to keep his memory alive and also to pass on good wishes to anybody who was possibly struggling with cancer or in need of a lift.

James, the eldest of three brothers, who was born and raised in Caister was a promising young footballer who was signed to Anglian Combination League side Halvergate and he played for Yarmouth Town.

He worked as assistant manager at the North Walsham branch of Lloyds TSB.

He and his friend Bin Tyler had quit their jobs and left the UK just weeks before on a six month travelling expedition. They were staying with friends on the island when the disaster struck.

The lantern release will take place on the beach near the Caister Lifeboat shed with all proceeds going to the life-saving independent service.

The bio-degradable lanterns are lit by glow sticks.

'There is a dark cloud over your head every day,' Mr Hurren said.

'It is still very tough and this year seems much more painful than previous years and I just cannot put my finger on it. The pain is relentless and there is no answer.

'I just feel as if I need to do something for his birthday. It's not just for James, it is for everyone and I am happy with what I have decided.'

Lanterns will be available on the night for �1 or in advance from Mr Hurren at 21 Manor Road, Caister or from Hair Paradise in the village.

Mr Hurren can be contacted on 07985 669412.

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