Quake memorial touches attendees

12:01, Feb 22 2012
flowers
TRIBUTE: Monarch butterflies were released during today's Civic Memorial Service which many attendees said was a "nice touch".

Sophie Hallwright had no plans to attend today’s earthquake memorial service until an hour before it started.

The broadcasting student, 20, was in a CPIT computer lab when last February’s quake struck, and came through the shaking unscathed.

She had initially planned to mark the first anniversary of the disaster quietly, away from any large crowds.

"I just had an overwhelming feeling at about 11:45 to be with the people I was with when it happened. So I got some of them together and came here.

"I thought it would be better to be with the people I was with on the day. I know some other people who just met up for lunch with the people they were with when it happened."

She felt for those quake victims too upset to attend today’s gathering.

“Everyone’s got different reactions. I suddenly wanted to come to this and there’s people who have to be by themselves, they can’t deal with it. People deal with it so differently."

Hearing the names of those who died in the quake read out was the most touching part, she said.

"It was so sad hearing the [surnames] more than once. People who were probably related."

BUTTERFLIES 'POIGNANT'

Ann Brower, the sole survivor of the Red Bus crushed by fallen mansonry on Colombo St, described the service as "nice".

She had not planned to attend but went to support her rescuers, who were receiving earthquake awards.

"I just didn't know what to think but as it got closer, I thought, 'How can I stay away?' And, the guys who dug me out were getting bravery awards, so you've got to celebrate that."

The most poignant moment for Brower was the monarch butterflies that did not fly away because they "wanted to stay here".

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"Those people [who died] didn't want to leave either," she said.

LOW KEY APPROACH

Sam Vincent, 20, was low key in his approach to the anniversary until the memorial neared.

"I didn’t feel sad about it until a couple of hours ago. It’s bizarre."

Thelma Knight, 80, of Avonhead, also found the reading of the names poignant.

"There were some names the same and you thought ‘Were they brother and sister? Or father and daughter?’ We didn’t realise that."

Her husband, Ewen Knight, 82, found the service "extremely touching".

"It was very well done. The readings were very good by the Prime Minister and [Student Volunteer Army founder] Sam Johnson.

"You can’t help thinking through where you were and what happened that day and the problems so many people still have."

'WE'VE GOT TO LOOK ON POSITIVE SIDE'

Kenneth and Kath Percival from the UK were only in Christchurch to visit their son and daughter-in-law who live in Heathcote.

They were doing the same thing last February, and flew out of the city the day before the quake before spending most of the next fortnight frantically trying to get back.

"We flew back from Australia," Kenneth Percival said.

"We wanted to comfort them. [Our] plan was to do an around the world trip, but that hit a little hiccup."

The couple attended the service on behalf of their son and daughter-in-law.

"They’re both working," Kath Percival said.

"They came to Christchurch just under two years ago and they’ve copped all the earthquakes.

"[The service] was very moving. We arrived just as they started reading the names. It just makes it very real.

"We’ve got to look on the positive side. Let’s hope [Christchurch] can be as beautiful a city as it was, if not more beautiful.”

SERVICE 'BEAUTIFUL'

Anna Washbourne said the memorial service was "beautiful".

"It was really good they embraced all the nationalities. The bit that got me the most was the reading of the names," she said.

The releasing of 185 monarch butterflies was a "nice touch", Washbourne said.

She attended because the fiance of her friend, who was trapped in the collapsed PGC building for five hours, was receiving an earthquake award.

"He was there to help her out of the building and helped a lot of other people as well," Washbourne said.
 
'THE MOST TERRIFYING DAY'

Carol Hinton and Paul Robertson came down from Auckland to spend time with their Christchurch-based sister Judy Fanning.

Fanning, who described last February's earthquake as the "most terrifying day", attended to pay tribute to those who died.

"I wanted to get some stuff out of my system."

Her brother said it was a "very moving and emotional" service.

The change since he had last visited Christchurch, about three years ago, was incredible.

He could not believe the devastation.

The siblings all agreed the reading of the names was the most poignant part of the service.

Jocelyn Papprill, whose friend died in the earthquake, attended the service by herself.

"It's the kind of collective need to be with other people ... it would've been hard to miss it."

She had "choked up" during the reading of the names.

"It's about community. Together we get through this."

Pam Craig, of Christchurch, also found the reading of the names particularly moving.

The educator, whose friend died in the earthquake, said finishing the service with positive messages of hope was great.

 

The Press