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Andy Chaggar - Survivor, Volunteer, CEO & Inspirational Speaker

In 2004 Andy Chaggar lost his partner, and almost his life, when the tsunami slammed into Thailand. The disaster changed his life forever.

Andy Chaggar's subsequent volunteer and charitable work has raised almost £1 million pounds and has helped over 23,000 of his fellow disaster survivors in five countries, including Thailand where he first returned to volunteer after the tsunami.

After volunteering again in Peru after an earthquake, Andy Chaggar went on to co-found a new UK charity in 2008. Through this charity, and his earlier volunteering, Andy has also inspired and helped empower thousands of other people to volunteer their time, energy and skills to help disaster survivors.

Andy Chaggar's powerful story of resilience and growth has been featured in a wide range of international, national and local media, in print, and on radio and television. He is now available to share his story face to face.

Andy Chaggar can tailor his talk to meet your precise needs, while describing his personal and professional journey from survivor to CEO. His clients can vouch for his ability to inspire, motivate and engage your audience from beginning to end, by sharing his story with honesty, humour and humility.  

Whether it's for a staff "wellness" session, a motivational "lunch & learn" or as an after dinner speaker, Andy Chaggar already comes highly recommended.

Key messages

Resilience and determination

Processing and dealing with change

Teamwork and effective communication

The importance and power of perspective

Andy Chaggar - Survivor, Volunteer, CEO & Inspirational Speaker

Andy Chaggar - Survivor, Volunteer, CEO & Inspirational Speaker

Andy Chaggar is CEO and co-founder of International Disaster Volunteers 

Andy Chaggar originally qualified with a first class honours in Electronic Engineering, and worked for five years as a semiconductor designer in Munich, Germany. However, he began to question his work’s meaning and impact, and in 2004 he set off to travel the world.

Just seven weeks later, while spending Christmas in the town of Khao Lak, Andy Chaggar  lost his partner and was also seriously injured when the south-east Asian tsunami struck. Although Andy was eventually rescued, he was trapped and facing death for four hours.

This experience, and witnessing the overall devastation first hand, had a profound and permanent impact on Andy Chaggar Although he was left scarred physically, mentally and emotionally, Andy was also left with an irrepressible urge to return to Thailand and help in the rebuilding process.

Following his physical recovery, Andy Chaggar  began his journey as a disaster response volunteer by managing the reconstruction of almost seventy homes for his fellow survivors near Khao Lak. He then obtained a Masters degree with distinction in International Development, before volunteering again in Peru, this time as lead engineer and manager of a sanitation project. 

Andy Chaggar’s experiences, both as a survivor and as a volunteer, then inspired him to co-found the  International Disaster Volunteers in 2008.

Since then Andy Chaggar has led  International Disaster Volunteers operations in Haiti, the Philippines and Nepal following other major disasters. This work, which has ranged from providing emergency shelter and food, to rebuilding over 100 classrooms, has directly supported 23,000 disaster survivors and counting.

Through International Disaster Volunteers Andy Chaggar  has inspired and enabled over 400 international volunteers to make a direct impact changing the lives of disaster survivors in three countries. Through his overall work Andy has helped empower many thousands more to do likewise. By working with Andy Chaggar many volunteers have also had their own lives changed, often going on to work for other charities, or even being motivated to set up entirely new organisations themselves.

Andy Chaggar’s story and work has featured in a wide range of international, national and local media. In 2015 he appeared with Matt Baker in episode three of The Gift on BBC1. Soon after he appeared in National Geographic’s The 2000’s Greatest Tragedies, which was broadcast in over a dozen countries worldwide.

In 2010 Andy Chaggar was named a Vodafone Foundation World of Difference International Award winner, following his selection from over 2,000 applicants. He was then named a winner of the even more prestigious World of Difference Grahame Maher Award winner in 2012. 

In 2007 Andy Chaggar  was also awarded the Andrew Lochhead Prize for International Disaster Volunteers from the University of Wales, Swansea. In 2009 International Disaster Volunteers was named as one of New Start Magazine’s three charities of the year. Andy wrote several professional articles for New Start, and he was also a topped ranked blogger for Civil Society Media between 2010 and 2013.

Andy’ Chaggar 's core talk describes how surviving the tsunami motivated him to return to Thailand to help others, which in turn, helped him to heal and gain a new perspective. Andy then goes onto describe how these experiences motivated him to pursue a new career and ultimately start a new charity.

While telling his powerful story Andy Chaggar  also covers several key messages, including:

Resilience and determination

Processing and dealing with change

Teamwork and effective communication

The importance and power of perspective

Andy Chaggar - Survivor, Volunteer, CEO & Inspirational Speaker

“Andy gave a presentation to our team and we were blown away by his storytelling ability and the lessons we could take from it both in our working and personal lives.  As a former HR Director, I know how challenging it can be to find an inspiring speaker for team development days who can help the team to really reflect while giving relevant and insightful learning points that resonate. Andy can adapt his talk to meet the development needs of your team. His story is powerful and human, it has many layers and flavours, and can be blended to fit your development menu. I would thoroughly recommend that you hire him. You won’t regret the decision.”

Gillian Smith, Deputy CEO, Step Up To Serve / #iwill campaign

Andy Chaggar spoke to our Crisis Support Officers (CSO's) who are a team of individuals who train to respond to major incidents. We asked Andy to help them understand the impacts of living through major emergencies so that they can help others caught up in an event. Andy was professional, warm, courageous and yes… inspirational! He very eloquently told us about the sequence of events before, during and after the Tsunami which cost him dearly and we are grateful that he found the courage to help others through his charity work. Our CSO's gained a great deal from Andy's talk and we would be very happy to recommend him as an inspirational speaker to others.

Libby Tassell, Emergency Planning Officer, Worcestershire County Council

We asked Andy Chaggar  to speak to 400 staff as part of a team building event about dealing with change and making the most of every opportunity. He talked about living through the 2004 Tsunami in Thailand and how this impacted and changed him, his life and the course of his future. We found Andy to be a warm, straight talking chap, and those who attended were moved and inspired by his courageous story which was told with the right balance of gravitas, sensitivity and injections of humour.


Andy Chaggar spoke to our employees as part of IMG's Wellness Week. The aim of the week was to engage our employees and help them think differently about their own lives. We wanted to challenge their mindsets, and get them to think about how a moment in time can lead to a change in direction and an alternative pursuit of fulfilment. Andy certainly delivered on every level. Andy talked openly about his survival and recovery, and described how he turned a negative into a positive by setting up a charity to help thousands of other people affected by natural disasters. It was inspiring listening to how one person could find the inner strength to change his life and find a new meaning and purpose. Andy pitched it just right, his humility and humour eased our employees, and at the end he had so many questions which he was only too happy to answer. Our employees were engaged throughout and he held everyone’s attention right to the end. Everyone who attended came away feeling that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I would absolutely recommend Andy for an inspirational talk.

Claire Mitchell, Senior HR Business Partner, IMG Stockley Park.

Having sat in a few inspirational talks over the last year, I can say hands down that Andy Chaggar was one of the best we’ve had come in at IMG. Having gone through such a traumatic experience, which had such huge media coverage, one may have assumptions on how an individual can deliver their story whilst holding it together. But Andy didn’t disappoint. He had a story to tell with no self-pity which really gets you thinking. He kept his audience engaged throughout whilst they felt compassion, empathy and most importantly inspired. It was so well received that people walked away from the session wanting to get involved and help a good cause.

Sunita Bains, HR ADVISOR, IMG Stockley Park.