The Daily Telegraph

Bri­tish boy who died as quake hit hol­i­day villa

Trib­utes to villa own­ers and friends’ son killed when walls came crash­ing down

- By Nick Squires in Ri­eti Henry Sa­muel in Som­mati Evans Disasters · Incidents · Natural Disasters · Italy · Finland · Clarence House · Charles, Prince of Wales · London · Prince George, Duke of Cambridge · United Kingdom · Prince of Wales · Wetherby · Independent School · Nick Baker

and Martin IT IS the ul­ti­mate dream of ru­ral life in Italy: a lov­ingly-re­stored villa in a me­dieval ham­let, with an im­mac­u­late rose gar­den, laven­der bushes, and a swim­ming pool shaded by cedar trees.

But the idyll turned to tragedy in the ham­let of Som­mati – near the epi­cen­tre of Wed­nes­day’s dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake – when the stone walls of the villa came crash­ing down, killing Bri­tons Wil­liam Hen­niker-Got­ley, 55, and his wife Maria, 51, along with Mar­cos Bur­nett, 14, the son of vis­it­ing friends.

The own­ers’ two chil­dren, Jack, 14 and Francesca, 15, both es­caped un­harmed, along with their guests’ daugh­ter, Adri­ana Bur­nett, 12, and an­other teenage girl.

Mar­cos’s par­ents, Si­mon and An­neLouise Bur­nett, were in­jured but sur­vived and are be­ing treated in a hos­pi­tal in Ri­eti, a town about 50 miles from the quake epi­cen­tre.

“The hus­band has a bro­ken leg and the wife has a bro­ken nose with other in­juries to her face,” a hos­pi­tal of­fi­cial said.

Neigh­bours rushed to help the Brit- ish fam­i­lies when they heard screams for help, in English, com­ing from un­der the rub­ble af­ter the quake hit at 3.36am.

Among the first on the scene was Bruno Formi­cola, 50, whose wife, son and his chil­dren were mirac­u­lously spared.

In tears as he re­turned to the villa on Fri­day, he re­counted how he had rushed out into the night with only his mo­bile phone as a torch, to find that the house had been re­duced to a mound of rub­ble.

“We heard cries for help in English from un­der­neath. Jack and Francesca had man­aged to es­cape, but two other teenage girls were stuck by a thick wall that had not fallen down. We man­aged to get them out down a lad­der. But the par­ents were un­der­neath,” he said.

“Then there was a big af­ter­shock and we had to wait. We started again, even though it was very dan­ger­ous as we were afraid the wall would col­lapse.

“Then we man­aged to pull out the par­ents of Mar­cos. They had not been buried very deep so we could reach them with our bare hands by lis­ten­ing to their voices to lo­cate them.

“We wrenched off a wooden door from an out­house and used it as a stretcher for the in­jured. When we pulled them out they were ask­ing for their son, Mar­cos, but he was buried deep un­der­neath. We didn’t have the tools to reach him.

“We had to wait un­til af­ter 5am when the sun came up for res­cue work­ers to ar­rive. They took away the in­jured and only re­cov­ered the dead much later,” he said.

An­other neigh­bour, Nando Bo­nanni, 63, took the shell­shocked sur­viv­ing chil­dren into the gar­den of his fam­ily’s restau­rant next door.

He said: “Jack told me he re­alised the house was fall­ing down when he saw stars where the wall used to be.”

Mrs Hen­niker-Got­ley worked as a fi- nance man­ager for Chil­dren and the Arts, a char­ity set up by the Prince of Wales to help un­der­priv­i­leged young peo­ple en­gage with mu­sic, dance and theatre.

In a state­ment, Clarence House said: “The Prince of Wales was deeply sad­dened to hear of the death of Maria Hen­niker-Got­ley and her hus­band Will, in the earth­quake in cen­tral Italy.

“Maria worked for Chil­dren and the Arts for many years, and was a val­ued mem­ber of the team whose con­tri­bu­tion was greatly ap­pre­ci­ated.

“The thoughts of the Prince and the Duchess are with their chil­dren and fam­ily, and the fam­i­lies of all those af­fected by this tragedy at such a dif­fi­cult time.”

Jeremy New­ton, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the char­ity, said: “The whole Chil­dren and the Arts team is shocked and sad­dened by the news of her death, and that of her hus­band Will, who was also a staunch sup­porter of our work. We have lost a val­ued col­league, of course, but, above all, two very dear friends.”

Mar­cos was a pupil at Wetherby In­de­pen­dent School in west Lon­don, which the Duke of Cam­bridge also once at­tended.

Nick Baker, the head­mas­ter, said the school was “dev­as­tated” by the loss. “We are bereft at the news that Mar­cos Bur­nett, a much-loved and ad­mired boy at our school, has died in the earth­quake in Italy. Our thoughts are with his fam­ily, and with all the vic­tims of this ter­ri­ble dis­as­ter.

“Mar­cos was al­ways ut­terly charm­ing, per­son­able and en­gag­ing com­pany.”

Jill Meyer, 69, a neigh­bour of the Hen­niker-Got­ley fam­ily, said: “It is just a ter­ri­ble, ter­ri­ble loss. They were a lovely fam­ily and I will miss them very much. It will be very odd not to see them again, the most un­be­liev­able thing.

“The chil­dren are in­cred­i­bly bright; to lose both of your par­ents at once is such a tragedy.”

Stu­art Barr, 44, a con­duc­tor, who lives op­po­site the fam­ily in south Lon­don, said: “They were an ab­so­lutely de­light­ful fam­ily.”

In the wrecked vil­lage of Som­mati, lo­cal man Daniela Di Gi­a­como said the house had orig­i­nally been owned by Mrs Hen­niker-Got­ley’s fa­ther, who is Ital­ian but worked in Bri­tain as a chef.

“They did splen­did things in this villa. It’s typ­i­cally English, with a lovely gar­den, a green lawn, re­ally beau­ti­ful. They would come back ev­ery hol­i­day with friends and fam­ily.”

 ??  ?? Bri­tish school­boy Mar­cos Bur­nett, 14, died in the Ital­ian earth­quake de­spite the res­cue at­tempts of vil­lagers, who were un­able to save him as they pulled his par­ents from the villa of their friends Wil­liam and Maria Hen­niker-Got­ley, who were also killed
Bri­tish school­boy Mar­cos Bur­nett, 14, died in the Ital­ian earth­quake de­spite the res­cue at­tempts of vil­lagers, who were un­able to save him as they pulled his par­ents from the villa of their friends Wil­liam and Maria Hen­niker-Got­ley, who were also killed
 ??  ?? De­stroyed: left and far left, the ru­ins of the Hen­nikerGot­leys’ villa in the ham­let of Som­mati. The area was hit by an earth­quake at 3.36 in the morn­ing
De­stroyed: left and far left, the ru­ins of the Hen­nikerGot­leys’ villa in the ham­let of Som­mati. The area was hit by an earth­quake at 3.36 in the morn­ing
 ??  ??
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 ??  ?? Vic­tims: Maria and Will Hen­niker-Got­ley and, top, 14-year-old Mar­cos Bur­nett
Vic­tims: Maria and Will Hen­niker-Got­ley and, top, 14-year-old Mar­cos Bur­nett

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