'Recovery not as fast as it should be'

21:17, Jun 29 2014
Cilla Glasson
KEEN ROWER: Cilla Glasson enjoys a coffee at her favourite cafe, Under the Red Verandah.

30 Minutes With ... is a weekly feature looking at life in Christchurch as the rebuild progresses. This week, Cecile Meier spends 30 minutes with Cilla Glasson.

Job: Director at St George's Hospital

Lives in: Merivale

Lived in Christchurch:40 years

Where: Under the Red Verandah, 29 Tancred St

Under the Red Verandah is Cilla Glasson's favourite spot in Christchurch for three reasons.


She likes how quickly it got back on its feet after the quakes, they have "amazing cheese scones" and the world's fastest barista: "Sometimes your coffee's ready before you've had time to sit down".

Glasson, a respected and active businesswoman, goes there for breakfast after rowing or while her dog gets a hydrotherapy session nearby.

Hydrotherapy for dogs?

"She's got bad hips," Glasson explains.

Our drinks are, indeed, ready in a flash. I stick to an ordinary flat white but am envious of the soft-looking meringue Glasson eats with a guilty smile. "I probably don't need it," she says with a laugh.

The waitress calls her "sweetie" but Glasson is not made of sugar.

The only female director St George's Hospital has had, she juggles roles in various community and health trusts.

Glasson is also a keen rower and was training for a 250-kilometre world masters' race before the quake destroyed the city's rowing sheds and parts of the river bank.

The river was out of action for a while but it is better now and Glasson rows once a week. Still, she would like to see a purpose-built rowing course in the residential red zone.

"There would definitely be enough space for it. At the moment, it's like a ghost town. There's no more landmarks to tell you how far you've gone."

Brought up in Southland, Glasson trained as a teacher and later ran a coffee bar in Riccarton and a childrens' clothing range.

She became a director at St George's following her involvement with a mothers' group there.

Her recipe to thrive in a male-dominated environment? "I just say what I think," she says.

She does not sugarcoat her views of the recovery. "I'm just sad the city isn't going ahead as fast as it should."

Like everyone else, she is sick of the roadworks and the sight of empty buildings awaiting demolition.

However, it is not all bad. She says communities have grown stronger, with people in need helping each other more.

With Cantabrians' confidence growing, the local economy is picking up. "Christchurch is a city that rocks in many ways," Glasson says.

The Press