A SOUTH African woman whose family face ruin after settling in Taunton has come up with a novel way of trying to turn around their fortunes.
Ian and Sandy Couryer, both 53, fled Johannesburg with their young son and headed to Somerset in search of a peaceful life after witnessing violence in their home city. On one occasion, Ian had an assault rifle held to his head by a gang of robbers.
But their plans have been thrown into disarray by the Covid pandemic, which is where Sandy came up with the idea of using her artistic skills to raise money to support her family and ensure they have a roof over their heads.
She has completed a digital drawing of the family’s two dogs, Dexter and Suzy, and is sending high-res images to anyone who sends her a £1 donation.
Sandy’s watermarked drawing of her two dogs
Ian and Sandy both had good jobs in South Africa, but a chain of events convinced them they needed to leave to provide a better life for their son, who is now 11.
“We were living with fear all the time,” said Sandy. “The final straw was when Ian was at a petrol station in his car having filled up.
“Several cars pulled up in a robbery. When they saw him in the car, they opened the door, put an R5 to his head and made him lie down.
“The security guard was shot and died on his way to hospital.
“Most of our family are still in the UK and we wanted to give our son access to his extended family so decided to move here.”
Sandy was expecting to start a job in Street last March, but the position has not materialised due to the pandemic.
Despite the couple’s efforts, neither has been able to find a permanent job since, although Sandy has done some low-paid work.
And now the landlord of the house they rent ten minutes from the centre of Taunton intends to sell up, leaving the family potentially homeless.
On top of that, their house in South Africa had sold for way below the expected price and a poor exchange rate has left them almost penniless almost a year down the line.
“We’re in limbo,” said Sandy. “We’ve got just £200 in our account. It’s finding that extra push to keep going, which is where the idea of asking people for a £1 for the picture came in.
“We love the Taunton area. The people are lovely, the scenery is lovely.
“There are swans on the river, we saw a fox the other day. It’s beautiful.”
Sandy hopes to get 330,000 people to buy her picture so the family can find a home in Taunton and she can start a business creating digital artwork and greetings cards.
If you’d like to support Sandy, visit her GoFundMe page at We’ve Lost Everything – Starting Over £1 at a time, where she has already raised more than £650.