Tree symbol of quake-hit pair's recovery

GERMARI HERSELMAN
Last updated 06:43 24/12/2013
Robyn Dawson
Germari Herselman
Christmas cheer: Robyn Dawson, of Blind River, with her first Christmas tree in more than 10 years and lilies from a friend
Robyn Dawson
Germari Herselman
Robyn Dawson and Ash Hamilton, are still feeling shakes

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The true happiness of Christmas has returned to a family home in Seddon.

Ash Hamilton and his wife Robyn Dawson bought a Christmas tree for the first time in more than a decade.

The Blind River couple live near the epicentre of the 6.5 quake on July 19 and 6.6 quake on August 16 and faced major mop-ups after both.

"I felt betrayed by my own home," Mrs Dawson said. "It's supposed to be the one place you feel safe and I didn't after the quakes. I slept in my car for the first two night."

But she has felt the change in season, the joy of summer and end-of-year festivities seep into her home.

"Life went on, summer fruit had to be harvested so I started laying them in and making fruit syrup to share with my neighbours," she said.

She realised how blessed they were with a caring community that really came together in a time of need.

"It is what Christmas is all about - caring for others and everyone has done exactly that this year," she said.

Council staff and tradesmen had worked in all weathers to reconnect their water and electricity. "After two weeks without water I ran through the house and flushed every loo when we were reconnected . . . then felt instantly guilty for wasting water."

The fear of more earthquakes was constant in the back of her mind, but she realised there was so much to be thankful for and wanted to celebrate that.

She bought and decorated her first Christmas tree since her children left home.

Mr Hamilton usually wears a badge saying "I hate Christmas" but this year it has not appeared.

The family lost most of their picture frames and art pieces, leaving the house bare, but they were afraid to replace them in case there was another quake.

Mrs Dawson took the opportunity to "think outside the box" and create decorations herself.

She put her handmade teddy bears on display, decorated baskets and donated some teddy bears to others in need.

"A friend brought me lilies and instead of using a glass vase (I no longer have), I used my tin watering can to put them in. It looks stunning and everyone comments on it," she said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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