This is a good news story which deserves to be told. Nearly thirty people escaped unhurt from the Caledonian Hall in Kilmore Street when it partly collapsed in the quake.
The St Luke’s Centre is a club for people with psychological, emotional and social needs. Our members are referred by their G.P. or by a community health agency. It is run by volunteers and has been operating five sessions each week for over thirty years.
On Tuesday 22 an afternoon session was under way when the quake struck. Present were five women volunteers aged between 70 and 80, almost twenty members and two student volunteers.
Some of the brick walls of the Caledonian Hall collapsed but fortunately they went outwards and no one was hurt. It was indescribably noisy, dusty and frightening but both volunteers and members coped incredibly well.
When they tried to vacate the building the outside stairs were covered with fallen bricks and rubble. Some men appeared with planks to lay over the mess and all were safely evacuated. Some had to be carried down.
Three volunteers lost their cars which were parked beside the building and were crushed. There were of course no buses or taxis but everyone eventually got safely home. Many had to walk long distances. One member from Lyttelton could not get home and was cared for during the next 24 hours by one of the volunteers until she could be reclaimed by her family.
I ought to have been there last week but I was ill and lucky enough not to be there.