Couple help ‘quake effort

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A Chorley couple are lending their support to the earthquake tragedy out in New Zealand.

It is over a week since a 6.3 quake on the Richter Scale hit Christchurch causing widespread damage and killing at least 154 people.

Ian Hamilton, 53, and his partner Sandra, who lived in Coppull and Whittle-le-Woods, have been in Oamaru for three years.

Even though they are three hours from Christchurch, they are helping with the aid effort.

Sandra said: “I’m helping some residents of Christchurch and am waiting to hear from the Red Cross to rehouse a family.

“There are thousands homeless and I have also been volunteering at The Salvation Army, sorting clothes, blankets, baby gear, and food.

“I have an old family friend in Christchurch and his family in the UK were desperate to hear from him.

“It took me hours to get through on the emergency phone lines to register him as a ‘missing person’.

“He has managed to send one text to tell his daughter he’s alive, after that they know nothing.

“It’s like a war zone and some of the building look like they have simply blown over.”

Ian says there are locals are still dealing with the shockwaves.

He added: “I was having my dinner when it all happened.

“I thought that a train was coming through the house the pictures and lampshades all swayed and moved.

“I knew straight away what it was but it felt like it was going on forever.

“We get them now and again and every time it’s scary but exciting as we feel the power of nature.

“You just have to live with it all the time over here stuck in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean.

“There are aftershocks possibly every hour.”

Ian added there is such a close-knit community that everyone has been affected by the tragedy.

He said: “Our thoughts are with all the people who have lost so much, and been killed or injured friends and family.”

Builder and joiner Ian is looking to help start work on rebuilding New Zealand’s second biggest city.

He said: “I will just have to wait until the emergency services and rescue teams are over.

“I want to help with the reconstruction and offer help to refugees.

“We have opened up our home to people from Christchurch but there are no takers yet but a lot have been evacuated down here because it is safer.

“I have never seen anything like it before and the whole of New Zealand is behind them especially in the south island and everyone knows someone there.

“We all know this could happen again. It is worse even than a volcano in its nature as it is a lot rougher and more fierce in the middle of the South Pacific”

Ian says this type of thing never happened back home in Lancashire and despite enjoying life in the Southern Hemisphere there are things he remembers about Chorley.

He said: “I miss the Chorley countryside, the hedgerows and walking the dog along the footpaths.

“Another thing is the pies and the fish and chip shops.”

Do you know anyone from Chorley who is out in New Zealand and has been affected by the earthquakes?

Contact us to tell us your story on 01257 264911 or email robert.kelly@lep.co.uk