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Tilly Smith (born 1994) is an English woman who, aged 10, was credited with saving nearly a hundred foreign tourists at Maikhao Beach in Thailand by warning beachgoers minutes before the arrival of the tsunami caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake.
Smith learned about tsunamis in a geography lesson two weeks before the tsunami from her teacher Andrew Kearney at Danes Hill School in Oxshott, Surrey. She recognised the warning signs of receding water from the shoreline and frothing bubbles on the surface of the sea and alerted her parents, who warned others on the beach and the staff at the hotel Phuket where they were staying. The beach was evacuated before the tsunami reached shore, and was one of the few beaches on the island with no reported casualties.
At Danes Hill Preparatory School a cameraman was allowed to follow Smith around for a day to find out what she normally did at school. Kearney was also interviewed at the school.
Smith's family declined requests to be interviewed by commercial and national broadcasters, but Smith appeared at the United Nations in November 2005, where she met the U.N. Special Envoy for Tsunami Relief, Bill Clinton, and at the first anniversary in Phuket, as part of a campaign to highlight the importance of education.
Smith was educated at Danes Hill School, an independent school in the village of Oxshott in Surrey, followed by Stowe School, a boarding independent school in the civil parish of Stowe in Buckinghamshire.
Honours and awards
In December 2005, Smith was named "Child of the Year" by the French magazine Mon Quotidien (a magazine targeted to young readers). At the official tsunami commemorations on the first anniversary of the tsunami held at Khao Lak, Thailand on 26 December 2005, she was given the honour of reading a poem to thousands of spectators.
"It wasn't devastation or death that won the day. It was humanity that triumphed, the shining victory of generosity, courage, love."— from poem by Naowarat Pongpaiboon
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- "Girl, 10, used geography lessons to save lives" Daily Telegraph 1 January 2005 retrieved 16 December 2005
- Film: Lessons save lives