Morecambe Bay is a large bay in northwest England. It is the largest expanse of intertidal mudflats and sand in the UK, covering a total area of 310 km². The Morecambe Bay cockling disaster occurred in the evening of 5 February 2004, when 23 Chinese cockle pickers were drowned by the incoming tide off the coast. A total of 21 bodies, of men and women between the ages of 18 and 45, were recovered from the bay after the incident. 15 cockle pickers survived.

  • Date: 16-Dec-2009
  • Place:
    • Morecambe (for interactive map, search for stretch of Coastal Road between Hest Bank and Carnforth, at the point where Coastal Road intersects with Pasture Lane

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16 December 2009

It was a rainy morning when we reached Morecambe Bay, the tide was low and the sky was grey. We were not so sure whether we were in the right place so we made Martin to get off and ask for directions (as he said he is no good asking directions, we thought this will be a great opportunity for him to practise). A few miles further and we reached our desitation (according to Tom Tom). It was a big area and we selected a place to park the mini-bus and then checked out. The area was quiet and peacful, one cannot tell traedgy happended with so many lives lost.

A rainbow appreared when the mini-bus hit the motorway. A selection of 23 photos in this album is to dedicated to the viticims and we wish their families peace now and that justice is found.

- by Chungwen Li


During the weekend of the sixth anniversary of the Morecambe Bay tragedy, a 60-mile sponsored walk from Liverpool to Morecambe Bay was organized on behalf of the Morecambe Victims Fund, to commemorate the tragedy and to help the families of the victims to relieve their burden of debt.

The fifteen walkers completed the two-day walk along the canals in Lancashire and reached Morecambe on the evening of the 7th. A total of £280,000 was raised at the end of the walk.

Sir David Tang and his family, who led and sponsored the initiative, all took part in the walk. The walkers included Nick Broomfield, Jez Lewis, Jabez Lam, Eddie Chow (Chinese Migrants Network), Raymond and Tracy Wong, Hsiao-Hung Pai, and Steve Rowlatt, a representative of Unite the union that has been an active supporter of the Fund.

The amount of raised fund will clear ALL the debts for the victims’ families in Fujian. This will enable the families and their children to start rebuilding their lives.

23 Chinese migrant workers were drowned at Morecambe Bay on 5 February 2004, picking cockles when they were cut off by the incoming tide in the bay at night. Workers made calls to emergency services for help, but partly because of the language barrier, the rescue arrived late and only one of the workers was rescued.

These Chinese cockle pickers began their journey of getting to the UK by loaning money from money-lenders and relatives. The fee they paid the smugglers was between £15,000 and £20,000 and it would take them 3-5 years working non-stop in subhuman conditions in Britain to pay back their debts.

Since the tragedy, each of the families has inherited a huge amount of debt of up to £20,000. In December 2008, the 22 families' last hope of receiving any compensation from the British government was dashed when their application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority was rejected.

The Morecambe Victims Fund, set up in 2006, had sent over donations from the British public to help pay for the families’ living expenses and a part of their debts. The families’ situation was desperate: To work and support their families, 11 out of the 36 children of the 22 families had dropped out of school.

In February 2009, Sir David Tang directed a fundraising event on behalf of Morecambe Victims Fund that succeeded in raising £62,000 for the families. This fund has helped to not only pay for the families’ living expenses and medical costs, but also the children’s tuition fees in middle schools and vocational colleges.

However, I visited the families in Fujian in August 2009 and saw that they are in need of much more help. The majority of the families have paid off only a third of their total debts. This leaves each family with a debt of 133,000 RMB (13,300 pounds) to pay off. Although most children have managed to continue their basic education with the money raised in February 2009, they are far from able to make the choice to further their education. We recognized that these families and their children will have no future in front of them if the debts are not cleared.

With determination, the fifteen of us completed the walk to Morecambe. With kind support from sponsors all over the world, the families will now be able to lead a normal life and plan for their future.

- by Hsiao-Hung Pai