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John Hoy

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Last updated 12 June 2005


The sad news that John Hoy is missing, presumed killed by the Tsunami reached us today, 6 January 2005. It's a tragic tale with only his wife, Nim, known to survive. His two youngest children are already confirmed dead and his oldest child is missing along with John.

John was a regular Wednesday nighter until he moved to the Far East to work and was very popular with everyone at the club with whom he came into contact. 6-01-05


Dear All,

I have heard from Johnís father (Ted) with details of the memorial service for John & his children. Itís 19 July at All Souls Church, Langham Place (near Auntie Beeb) and starts at 2:00 p.m. Thereís no restrictions on numbers, but Ted needs to know if weíre coming mob-handed for catering purposes. Thereís to be a nice cup of tea afterwards at 3:00 in Waldegrave Hall underneath the church.

Let me know next time you see me if you attend to come along.

I thought that you would like to read Tedís review of the events since Boxing Day Ė very poignant.

Rob Brown


Summary of the events since 26th December 2005.

As you probably know, John and his family were on holiday in Kaho Lac and were swept off the beach by the tsunami. Nim was battered but survived but John, Robert, David and Kate did not. After searching for two days Nim found the bodies of David and Kate. But by the fifth day bodies were physically unrecognisable and the authorities moved everyone away from the area. Identification was switched to DNA, dental records and fingerprints. There is a team of 65 Metropolitan police forensic officers based in Phuket who are engaged on this gruesome work.

Anne (Johnís twin) and her family were out there on holiday with them. About an hour before the tsunami they left to go to another part of the coast to do some scuba diving. Fortunately they had about five minutes warning and managed to reach the safety of some higher ground.

Anne found Nim with the bodies of the two children on the third day, and managed to get through to us on the mobile phone. That was the first news we had had.

I flew out there with our younger son Keith at the end of December. Our son-in-law Richard returned to the UK on the 2nd January with their two girls. Anne stayed on with us for a further week. Nim was holding up remarkably well. It seemed an interminable wait until Johnís body was identified at the end of March. The funeral for him, and David and Kate was arranged for the weekend of the 14th May in Cha Am. On 30th April we were very relieved to hear that Robert had now been identified; recovery of the bodies was very important to Nim: thus Robert was able to be included in the funeral and all four of them were able to be cremated together. We went to Thailand for the funeral, together with Anne and her family, and Keith. The exhumation ceremony was on Saturday, the cremation services, were on Sunday, and the collection of the ashes on Monday. There were about 500 people there during the main Sunday service. It was a very moving and emotional three days. It is a relief that Nim can now feel a sense of closure and has been able to return to the UK without the recovery of Robert still on her mind. Throughout this time the Embassy and DFID staff and the forensic team have provided strong support to Nim in Thailand: and the FO, DFID and the Police Family Liaison Officers have supported our family in the UK. Nim returned to the UK on the 1st June. She has recovered well from her battering by the water and the debris. She had a small operation on her leg at the beginning of May and we hope this is the last of the treatment she will require.

Ted Hoy


I have just rec'd further news from DFID about John Hoy.

As we already knew a funeral service has taken place in Thailand.

Nim Hoy will be returning to UK at the beginning of June and a memorial service will take place somewhere in London sometime in June. Further details promised as soon as info is to hand. I have arranged to send a copy of the latest B & B Gazette to be forwarded to Nim.

Grateful if you would pass this update on to all interested parties.

Stephen Hollingdale


Dear Darryl,

I don't know how to put this. John and I and the children went to Khaolak for our X'mas holiday. We were at the beach at that time and managed to run away for 100 metre. We took shelter at one of the bungalows. I told everyone to step out of the roof and as I did so the water swept me away from my family. I saw Robert and David cried and called me, John and Kate stood there frightening. I told them I was going to be OK but then I was drowned and struggled for life. The water took me to the edge to the pond. When I got myself up, I shout for my family but there was no reply. I then looked around but no living things in sight. I went to the man who was badly injured. I helped him to safety and went back to look for my family. I asked for help but everyone was still frighten and I started to pray. There was a shout that another wave was coming, so I help people get on the truck and jumped in. I was taken to somewhere high up. I asked and looked everywhere but there was no sign of my family.

The following day, 27th Dec, I went to look for them at the hospital but none was found. I contacted the British Embassy and they took me to safe place. On the 28th Dec, John's bossm John's sister and my sisters were there to support me. We went to the temple and found David and Kate but not John and Robert. My sisters took the bodies to my home town but I stayed behind in hope of finding John and Robert. There were lots of bodies and I didn't have enough strength to look.

Please help me pray for them and hope that we'll find them soon so that they can rest in peace.


Nim Hoy

>From: Darryl Wayne <>
>To: John Hoy <>
>Subject: Re: How's the running going'
>Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2005 17:09:30 +0000 (GMT)
>Hi John,
>With all the terrible news that we are hearing over here about the disastrous effect of the Tsunami in Asia, I really hope that you and your family are okay.
>Please let me know that you are okay so that I can tell the rest of Blackheath Harriers.
>Although you must be living amongst very depressed and traumatic people,I still want to wish you a very Happy New Year and all the best for 2005.
>My running's going okay. I'm still recovering from a calf injury,so I haven't been able to train flat out for the London Marathon,but I'm still going to focus on running 2:48.
>Cheers and let me know your news your side.
>Best regards
>Darryl Hilliar

John Hoy <> wrote:
>Dear Darryl
>Greetings from Thailand! Sorry that I have not written back for ages - life gets rather hectic, having to travel so much with my work, and with the demands of the family. I hope the running is going well. I was looking on the Blackheath website the other day and saw that you have a rather tougher handicap in the Bennett cup this year, but are still putting in some good performances. Have you managed to break the 2.50 barrier yet in an autumn marathon'
>I'm afraid that I am as unfit as ever, the delights of the Bangkok weather and traffic not being very persuasive in getting me to build up the mileage. I've also had a niggling problem with my achilles every time I do try to do some faster runs. I did run in a 12km race in Phuket, but mainly because the friends we were staying with work for the local TV station and wanted to give the race some coverage. Unfortunately they got the time muddled up, so I arrived 25 minutes late and got lost twice because the marking was not great and everyone was miles ahead! I managed, however, to catch about five of the back markers and finish in about 56 minutes (allowing for diversions), appearing in the TV footage (probably a first for me).
>A couple of weeks ago I went for the first time on the Bangkok hash. Not many lean and mean runners there, but plenty of beer bellies! It was nice to run in the countryside for a change, but the route seemed designed to maximise the number of rickety old wooden footbridges that we had to cross to get over filthy canals, and we had to negotiate a number of people's back yards, with lots of barking dogs. It was good to be one of the faster ones there, since there were plenty of false trails and I did not particularly want to be left behind with nightfall closing in.
>I heard from Cliff recently, who appears more or less back in form, running a 1.20 half marathon in Sydney. He has not yet found a good club though where he can face some challenge. We spent a couple of weeks in the UK over the summer on holiday, but were mainly up north, so I did not get the opportunity to come down the club - hopefully I'll make it next summer (unfortunately all my work travels are in Asia, not back to the UK).
>That's about all for now. Please say hi to all the guys down the club for me - I miss my Blackheath days! Do drop me a line when you get the chance and let me hear of those pbs. Have a great Christmas as well.


This article was taken from The Independent Online

Why was I spared'
Asks the woman who has lost everything after husband and three children are swept to their deaths
By Jonathan Brown 06 January 2005 (note not our Jonathan Brown)

The Hoys were a loving and close-knit family. John Hoy, born in London, was a diplomat. Working as an economist for the Department for International Development, the government body now co-ordinating the British response to the Indian Ocean tragedy, he met and married Nim while stationed in Bangkok 15 years ago. They had three children. First was 12-year-old Robert, followed three years later by David and two years after that by Kate.

They were holidaying together at the resort of Khao Lak with relatives from Britain when the tsunami struck. The family had been playing on the beach, but sought refuge in a holiday cottage as they heard the water roaring towards them. But the fragile structure was crushed. All three children and Mr Hoy, 46, are thought to be dead.

Only Mrs Hoy was spared, being swept a kilometre inland by the wall of water. Details of the Hoys' tragedy come 11 days after a natural disaster in which 150,000 were killed and millions left homeless. The spectre of suffering and disease hangs over millions more.

Billions of pounds have been raised as a continent stands in united, silent grief; the world is engaged in the biggest-ever relief operation. But, despite the continuing backdrop of harrowing television images and personal tales of horror and grief, still the tsunami has the power to shock.

Mrs Hoy, 40, suffered only cuts and bruises, but her mental anguish is overwhelming. "I don't know why I survived; I should have gone with them," she said yesterday. After the tsunami she was forced to spend the night alone on the high ground until the waters receded. Then the desperate search began.

"I was just hoping that someone would find my family and that they were safe," she said. It was not to be.

After two days of increasingly frantic searching she came across the bodies of Kate and David, stored in a temple that had been converted into a temporary mortuary. Of John and Robert, more than nine days later, there is still no certain news.

"Why was my life spared'" Mrs Hoy cried. "We were all very close. John loved his family very much. The children were beautiful. I married him because I had a sense that he was a great man and I was right. I just hope that we can manage to find John and Robert, so we can be together again in peace." To underline the sudden, brutal shock of their deaths, some of the children's last moments together were captured in a family photograph taken the previous night as they posed happily in front of a Christmas tree on the beach.

Some 1,800 bodies were washed up on the beach at Khao Lak, one of the worst-affected areas in Thailand. Hundreds were Western tourists, although the grim task of identifying the bodies is still incomplete. Many more are still missing. The majority of the 200 Britons missing or dead were in Thailand, where the death toll has exceeded 5,000.

The relatives who were holidaying with the Hoys have returned to Britain, while Mr Hoy's parents have flown to Thailand from their home in Ellesmere, Shropshire, to comfort his widow.

One of the relatives, who works in Aberdeen but declined to be named yesterday, said that they had left the beach just two hours before the waters came.

The relative spoke of the desperate search for the family. "We went looking for them but I cannot imagine them surviving now. The place was flattened. It is very sad They were lovely kids, you could not wish for a better set of kids. They were bright, lively kids with a great future - that makes it all the harder."

Meanwhile, more details of the British dead and missing continued to emerge. The Ground Force presenter Charlie Dimmock was said to be inconsolable as she waited for news of her mother and stepfather, who are missing from the Thai resort of Phuket.

Sue Kennedy, 59, a public relations executive and her husband Rob, 60, have not made contact since the waves struck on Boxing Day. The couple had flown to Cambodia on 17 December and were planning to travel around the region during their holiday.

Pupils at Neville Lovett Community School in Fareham, Hampshire, were told that their classroom assistant, Heather Gill, had been killed while on holiday in Phuket. The 42-year-old from Lee-on-Solent was separated from her husband, Steve, and 17-year-old daughter Charlotte, who both survived.

The father of the backpacker Clare Jackson, 25, who was studying at Exeter University, confirmed that he had identified the body of his daughter. She died when the water pulled her away from her boyfriend in Tangarra, Sri Lanka.

This article was taken from The Independent Online


I learned with horror about John Hoy's death, along with his children, from the BH website; and have since heard from John's widow, Nim.

I would like to add my own tribute to John Hoy.

John and I were almost inevitably friends when we ran with the Wednesday nighters. We were the same age, same build, same speed even 'though John was the more natural and disciplined runner' and with some common interests.

John had lived in various different parts of the world, including a few years in New Delhi. When my wife and I found we were also heading to New Delhi for a year or so, John was kind enough to offer us his collection of information (including a New Delhi local bus timetable, the only one in existence as far as I can make out). Through this we came to meet his wife, Nim, and his three young children.

John had originally met Nim when he was posted to Bangkok, and they agreed to return there for a few years, partly so that the children could get more in touch with their 'Thai' side. At around this time we were heading down to Australia, via S.E. Asia, and we stayed with John and family in Bangkok on several occasions.

The newspapers have reported John as being a 'diplomat'. He did have diplomatic status, but his involvement was with DFID, the aid and development branch rather than international relations or trade. He had worked in the development area before, with DFID and also as a volunteer in Kenya.

In fact, John's history was a full one, with numerous achievements and experiences, but was not easy to discover. You had to dig quite deep to get John to reveal his accomplishments such as his 15 minute 5K, or being Kent Veteran 10K champion, or climbing Mount Kenya, or even wearing the rather splendid outfit at his Thai wedding ceremony.

For me there were two aspects of John's personality beyond the friendly face. He had a restless approach to life, he saw so much that he wanted to do and he was bold enough to go and take it on, however unconventional it may appear to others. I can guarantee that you would not find another diplomat in New Delhi who would even know where the local buses stopped, never mind actually using them to get from A to B. The other aspect was in the way he would make life decisions based on what was best for his family, which is what took him back to Thailand.

Personally, I will keep two memories in particular about John. The first was of an Orpington 10K. I'd started off too fast, as normal, and John caught me up. It was then an enormous effort to keep on John's heels, dragging me round much faster than I ever thought I could manage. I hope that he felt the same trying to shake me off. In the end it was a dash to the finish. I came in a couple of yards ahead somehow - really I think that John did not have it in his heart to beat me. The second was a night out in 'Soi Cowboy' in Bangkok. Soi Cowboy is a street of nightclubs, bright lights, bars, skimpily dressed ladies, men skimpily dressed as ladies and every other combination. John and I did have our wives for protection, even so this was a long way from John's normal environment. This was John out of his comfort zone, slightly risky, pushing the boundaries - which was how John most liked to live.

John leaves a big hole for his family and friends and the World a poorer place. I hope the angels are ready for him, because I expect John to be pretty nippy in a pair of wings.

Cliff Keen


Mrs Nim Hoy
C/o British Embassy

14 January 2005

Dear Nim,

I am writing on behalf of all Johnís friends and fellow runners at Blackheath and Bromley Harriers AC in Hayes, Kent. We were all deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic loss of John and your three children in the Tsunami in Thailand. Words cannot express our feelings and the depth of sympathy we feel for you at this time.

John was a member of the same running group I belonged to known as the ĎFartsí, although most of the time I was running with John I only saw him at the beginning of a race because he was much faster than me or indeed most of us. At our last regular Wednesday night meeting we all remembered John and held a short period of silence in respect of him and his children and to think of you. Several said a few words about the quiet, helpful and kind man that was John. He will be greatly missed by us all. Enclosed is a card signed by those who knew John. He was a very good runner as I am sure you know and to help you remember this part of his life enclosed are a few photos taken of him at club races and the London Marathon.

I am sure at this stage it is difficult for you to see beyond the terrible feeling of loss you must have. But if at any time in the future you are ever in the UK and wish to visit our club to talk to some of Johnís fellow runners and friends you would be very welcome. You may care to visit our website at  where several members have said a few words about John.

Thinking of you at this time

Kindest regards

Stephen Hollingdale


It is with great sadness that, seeking results for the recent Kent Championships on the website, I learnt of the tragic death of John. Although not part of the regular Wednesday night group, John and I were increasingly regular sparring partners for positions in Mob Matches, with a sporting handshake at the end of the race to whomever had finished in front.

Having returned from Bangkok from a business trip just before Christmas, I was particularly shocked by the scale of the disaster and the personal tragedies each loss meant to everyone involved.

To his wife, in the particularly tragic loss of her husband and children, I would like to extend the same hand in deepest sympathy, as I did in sportsmanship to John so often in races.

John Beck


What a sad week it has been. As the tragedy unfolded in the wake of the tsunami, it has really hit home with the terrible news of John and his family. On a personal basis, I found John to be a genuine, friendly and caring family man. We had a couple of kids about the same age and he was always interested in what was going on in our lives. He as indeed a proud father who wanted to do the best for his family.

I recall congratulating John on his 2-45 marathon in Abingdon about 5years ago and his was very modest about it and unassuming but that was "little John".

Back in the summer of 2003 whilst running around High Elms, John told me of his plans to move back to Bangkok for a couple of years so to be near Nims family and then come back to the UK for the kids secondary education. He was obviously looking forward to it. I expected to see him appear again on a Weds night this coming summer but that is not to be, and as we consider the fragility of life, prayer for Nim and Johns parents that they may find some comfort in their time of distress.

Bernie Bater


I'm so sorry to hear about John & his family, its absolutely tragic, what we've all heard about in the past 2 weeks, but this now brings it close to home.

He was a kind, quiet, gentle, unspoken man, of few words, he had done very well in those handicap races and I'm sure managed to get quite a few points in the mob matches.

I remember him very well; joining us rowdy lot at our corner table and feel so sorry for his wife and how she's been left without him or their children.

He spoke to me with great encouragement & support during the early days of my little baby girl Grace, saying that he lived for his wife & children and all that they meant to him.

Our thoughts are with his wife & can only hope for her sake that there will be some news.

Jonathan Brown


I read in today's Times - page 11 - that John Hoy, a club member, is missing in Thailand. The report says a son and daughter are confirmed dead and John and another son are missing leaving only his Thai wife as surviving. John worked for the International Development Dept and had been based in Bangkok for a couple of years. John was a regular member of the Wednesday nighters 'farts' group.

I shall try through contacts at DFID in London to get more info.

Stephen Hollingdale

I have made contact with someone in DFID Uk who is collecting messages of condolence. I shall get a card which I shall bring to Committee on Monday and next Wednesday for members to sign. Both the Metro and the Independent feature pictures of John and his family.



I do not know if you have seen the Independent today, but their front page spread carries the sad news that John Hoy is missing, presumed killed by the Tsunami. It's a tragic tale with only his wife, Nim, known to survive. His two youngest children are already confirmed dead and his oldest child is missing along with John.

I am sorry to be the bearer of this news. As you know, John was a regular Wednesday nighter until he moved to the Far East to work. I am particularly saddened because he was a member of the "Farts" and was so popular with everyone at the club with whom he came into contact.


Rob Brown


These photos are from Pat Calnan

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