Mary Storrie joins Purposely Podcast to tell her inspirational story
On the 28th of December 2003 Mary’s world came crashing down. At a Christmas party, Rosie May their only daughter, aged 10 at the time, was brutally murdered by a 17 year old boy she knew. Mary talks about the devastation this caused both to herself, her husband and their two sons. How this violent and senseless act has changed them as a family for ever. In honour of her memory the family dramatically changed the direction of their lives with a focus on helping others.
A year after the death of her daughter the family decided to escape the horrific recollections of the Christmas before and go on a family holiday to South East Asia. On Christmas Day, they planted a little palm tree in loving memory of Rosie May.
On boxing day, as they stood on the shore of the Indian Ocean the tsunami hit. It claimed more than 230,000 lives across fourteen different countries and was one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded. Mary talks about being lucky to survive that disaster, however, she also describes their sense of calm, as her son said succinctly, ‘we have already faced our worst nightmare’.
Mary went back to find the tiny palm tree they had planted, and incredibly it had survive. Mary saw this as a clear sigh that Rosie May was watching over them and had kept them, her brothers and the tiny palm tree safe. This was the inspiration for the Rosie May Foundation.
Their personal tragedy gave them the determination to do something extraordinary. To turn tragedy into hope and create a living legacy to the daughter they loved so much. They wanted to give children in crisis the right to a future, one that Rosie May has tragically been denied. Their very first project, the Rosie May Home for girls, was opened for children who had lost parents to the tsunami in Sri Lanka.
Today the charity is at the forefront of the deinstitutionalisation (children out of orphanages into smaller loving homes) agenda in Sri Lanka, conducting research driving the process forward, and working with key partners, both in the UK and on the ground. Partners like Hope and Homes for Children (see #16 HHC founder Mark Cook speaks with Purposely Podcast). They also operate in Nepal and their fundraising reach has stretched as far as Australia.
Impressively Mary has also been back to University to do a bachelor of arts and a masters in human rights and global citizenship. Mary sees the importance of this later life education to her current role as CEO of an international development charity. The time spent as an adult student proved therapeutic and she could choose if she wanted to share her story or just be ‘Mary the adult student’. She received several awards for her academic achievements while in Nottingham.