Co-workers rally for debt-hit, bereaved family
A group of Christchurch workmates are having a fundraising event on Saturday to show a young colleague that they care.
Bryce Cockroft turns 17 on Saturday. It will be the first birthday he spends without his mum but he is far from alone.
At 43, Nicky Cockroft lost a short battle with an aggressive form of cancer on March 17.
Now her two children are struggling to pay debts, including the mortgage on the family home.
Bryce, a pupil at Cashmere High School, is working 20 hours a week as a kitchen hand at CBD Bar.
Workmate Peter Hayward decided to put on an event to help out his young colleague.
Hugs for Bryce at CBD Bar on Saturday aims to raise "at least $5000" to help Bryce and his sister, Kate, 20, a solo mother.
When their mother died, her best friend and the siblings' godmother, Linda Newsome, set up a crowdfunding page via Givealittle, aiming to help relieve some financial pressure. It has since raised over $50,000.
"I knew his mum had died but I don't ask him about it in general," Hayward says. "One night at work I went out the back. He was chopping wood and he looked really upset. He told me about what had happened with his mum and about the money."
Hayward decided to do his best to help him and enlisted his colleagues' support.
An artist, he offered to draw a picture of Bryce's mother as a personal gesture, but he wanted to offer practical support, too.
"We're holding the event, Hugs for Bryce, on Saturday. We didn't know it was his birthday when we picked that date," Hayward says.
"We have a raffle which includes a hog roast, vouchers for Gustav Kitchens, vouchers for CBD, and we have live music. Mitre 10 have let us use a bouncy castle for the day."
Entertainment starts at noon, including a set from established band The South Tonight and the Dead Rats, a band which includes one of Bryce's mates and colleagues.
"Then, after 5pm, we have DJ Buzz, DJ Scotty, DJ Greg, Emerson, DJ Ryder and DJ Thanks," Hayward says.
"Bryce is a really good lad. It's about empathy. I've got a younger brother the same age as him and if he was in that situation I'd want someone to help him."
Extended staff at the company are busy baking cake slices for the event.
"Hopefully we can get a few hundred people down here for Bryce," Hayward says. "It's their family home and he needs to know that people do care about him."
For once, Hayward says, Bryce will be at work but won't have to do the dishes.
"We're not going to make him wash dishes on his birthday."
Bryce, who has been working hard around his studies, says he is helping his sister, with whom he has a strong bond, keep their family home "nice".
He appreciates the support from the community and his colleagues since his mother's death. "It means everything."
Recently, Women's Day magazine visited his home and did a photoshoot. He thinks it's going to be "a bit weird" to see his face staring back at him from a magazine but he is thankful for the support.
On Saturday, Bryce will be hanging out with his mates, but he will also get himself a lasting present to mark his birthday.
"I am getting my first tattoo. I'm getting my mum's birthday in Roman numerals on my right bicep.
"On my left bicep I'm getting the day she passed away in Roman numerals."
Hugs for Bryce, at CBD Bar, 208 Madras St, Saturday, from midday onwards.