Suffolk/New Zealand: College quartet joined quake rescue force in New Zealand

SUFFOLK/ NEW ZEALAND: An Otley College lecturer and his students are returning home today after helping out with the rescue efforts following the Christchurch earthquake.

Jody Lidgard, Craig George, Will Gadd and Jay Gadd arrived in the country on February 18 to compete in the Ellerslie International Flower Show.

The quartet were unharmed in the February 22 disaster and joined the town’s rescue force to help the thousands of stranded tourists and people left devastated by the earthquake, which has so far claimed four British lives.

The trio of students and Mr Lidgard, who teaches garden design at the college, were at the flower show venue of Hagley Park – just outside of Christchurch town centre – when the tremors began.

The lecturer said: “Things were swaying three metres from left to right and shaking from left to right. We were shaken to the ground.

“I wouldn’t say we were scared exactly. It’s a strange feeling because you are standing on solid ground, but you are moving – your brain doesn’t really comprehend what’s happening.”

The foursome wasted no time in finding out what they could do to assist the victims of the disaster.

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Mr Lidgard, 42, said: “We got ourselves together and did what we could to help out. We worked with the civil defence to help assess the periphery and distributed goods to people who had been rescued.”

The lecturer and his students are flying from Auckland to London today after getting transportation help from the British Consulate in Christchurch.

He praised the people of the city, saying their reaction to the earthquake and the unity of their response was “fantastic”.

“A lot of people have lost everything and people are still being pulled out of the rubble,” he said.

“Everyone is doing their bit – young and old people are working together and the response really has been incredible.”

n Have you been affected by the New Zealand earthquake? Call The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788 or e-mail starnews@evening

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