In the aftermath of the Asian tsunami disaster, Inside Out meets one man who spent his savings to go overseas to try and help those worst-hit by the crisis.
Here, John Farrington tells the BBC the story of how he travelled to Thailand to try and make a difference.
Force of nature
On December 26 2004, a massive earthquake measuring 9 on the Richter scale occurred off the coast of Indonesia, the largest of its kind for 40 years.
The resulting tidal wave, or tsunami, devastated communities from eastern Malaysia to West Africa, killing over 270,000 people, with over 400 Britons feared dead or missing.
People all over the world have been shocked by the tragedy, donating money in their thousands, but for one North West man, simply contributing to the relief fund just wasn't enough.
That's why John Farrington took his savings and left his Wilmslow home to go overseas to help - right at the centre of the crisis.
"Like most people I watched in horror as the events in the Indian ocean unfolded.
"I suddenly decided to leave everything I know and love behind, and spend my savings on a flight to Bangkok.
"It was an easy decision to make - it was all because of this photograph in the newspapers, of a father in India holding his dead eight-year-old son's hand.
"It reminded me of my son Gabriel - he's eight too.
"When I talked to him he told me, 'Daddy, I want you to go, because the people out there need help.'
"That was how I found myself on a plane to Thailand."
Images of destruction
The BBC gave John a camera to record his experiences, and, as we discovered, it was even more shocking than he first thought.
|Many areas have been totally devastated by the tidal wave|
When he arrived, the first thing he saw was a wagon carrying coffins, so he stopped filming to help load the dead bodies.
John stayed in Thailand over New Year, and said the experience was harrowing.
"It's hard to think that all around the world people were saying such a sad goodbye to a year that ended in tragedy, and welcoming in a new one with such despair instead of hope.
"In Khao Lak there was no sense of time, just the grim task facing the army and the stench and silence of death.
"Candles were being lit and prayers said for the dead."
During his time in Thailand, John only met one man who survived the disaster, and was overwhelmed by the devastation that faced him everywhere he went.
He was particularly affected by the thousands of people searching for their missing loved ones, not knowing if they were dead or alive.
"The hardest part for me was trying to help people find those missing, especially when they were looking for children.
"People would come to us with their details, and by the time I'd been there three days we'd set up a wall of photographs.
"By the end of my first week there are still search teams going out looking for bodies."
|Charities and volunteers are working hard to distribute relief|
John was surprised by some of the measures the Thai authorities were taking to help - including using a group of elephants normally used for tourist trips to help carry bodies back to the Disaster Centre.
And he was moved by the efforts of the people he met, who were all trying to help in some small way in the midst of the tragedy.
"A German man, who was living in Thailand, arrived with his wife.
"He told me he had just brought a car load of supplies for us.
"It was a wonderful gesture and the kind of thing that was happening every day."
But amid the happier moments of his trip, John and the team were also in considerable danger.
"It's a terrifying reminder of how vulnerable we are when new earth tremors shake the camp and we're told to get on a lorry and head into the hills. I was petrified."
Despite his fear, John and the other men and women who volunteered their time made a real difference to the relief effort in Thailand.
And while John was overseas at the centre of the tragedy, his neighbours back home in the North West were doing what they could to help.
For details of how the region got involved, read our breakdown of the North West's fundraising efforts.
If you would like to put a question to John about his time spent in Thailand, or how his experiences have affected him, please email: email@example.com