Happy days in home recalled
Christchurch Earthquake 2011
In 1976, Darel Hall's mother was a single parent, raising her only son while holding down a fulltime job.
The Cholmondeley Children's Home offered a lifeline to the busy mum by providing respite care for eight-year-old Darel.
Hall, now 44, returned to Cholmondeley in Governors Bay last month for the first time since the 1970s.
His visit was sparked by the news that Cholmondeley's buildings would be demolished after suffering serious damage in the February earthquake.
"My reaction was that the building itself is not the critical part of what Cholmondeley is about," he said.
"It's the spirit of looking after those kids. They're still looking after kids like me - that's the bit that matters. Whether they have this building or a different building, it doesn't matter."
Hall had three short stints at Cholmondeley as a child as his mother worked hard to stay off government benefits.
"It's hard for single mothers now, but it was harder in the 1970s."
Hall was a high-spirited youngster who "loved" his visits.
Cholmondeley board president Sir Kerry Burke said the "difficult" decision that the damaged buildings were beyond repair was made last month.
The board was committed to ensuring features of the original home were preserved, he said.
A demolition contract had yet to be awarded, and the board was keen to hold a farewell for the building to allow former residents to say goodbye.
More than 25,000 children had stayed at Cholmondeley over its 86-years, he said.
Cholmondeley's emergency and respite care service, which has been based at the Living Springs campus since March, would continue, he said.
Burke said plans were being drawn up for a new complex.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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