Tearful quake teens' last goodbye to mum

By Jo Knowsley

When teenagers Lizzy and Kent learned their mother Donna Manning was trapped in the collapsed CTV building, they mounted a poignant four-day vigil hoping she might emerge alive.

Now, almost a year after her death - and the loss of 186 other souls in the devastating Christchurch earthquake - they have found the strength to say goodbye.

As the country prepares to hold memorial services on Wednesday to remember February 22, 2011, Lizzy, 19, and her brother, Kent, 16, plan to bury Donna's ashes in "a special place close to her heart".

"We wanted to take the time to find the right place," says Lizzy. "I can't face the crowds at Hagley Park for the big memorial service, but I will attend the one at the cathedral.

"Then, as a family, we will bury the ashes and each say something about my mum. I haven't written anything but I will just talk about all that she has done for me and how I hope to keep her spirit alive. We think about her every day."

Donna, a 43-year-old TV producer and host of the Good Living show, had been at work in the CTV building when the earthquake struck. Images of her children were beamed around the world as the human face of the tragedy after their grief was captured on camera.

Lizzy and Kent have struggled to rebuild their shattered lives. Lizzy has dropped out of her mechanics course and has been working at Bunnings warehouse after she decided to give herself a year to pull her world back together. She hopes to enrol in broadcasting school next year.

"I'm giving myself another gap year to sort things out."

She and Kent have moved into a house with their father, Jonathan - who was separated from Donna but has returned to Christchurch to be with his kids.

For Lizzy, Mother's Day, her mother's birthday last September and Christmas have been the worst periods of the past 12 months.

"It's been hard. The other day someone came into work and she was wearing mum's perfume - Red Door by Elizabeth Arden - and I just broke down. It was a little thing but those things still hurt.

"I still wear mum's bracelet all the time. I don't take it off.

"Kent passed his A-level exams last year which was amazing given what had happened. And we're coping."

Lizzy just wants her mum to be proud. "I'm proud of myself. I've made it through a whole year without my mother."

Donations can be made to The Elizabeth and Kent Manning Trust Account; Kiwibank account 38 9011 0430 699 000

Remember

Aucklanders are being invited to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake at the Auckland War Memorial Museum on Wednesday.

12pm: Performance by a quartet featuring Christchurch musicians.

12:30pm: Reading by Christchurch author Fiona Farrell.

12:40pm: Comments from director Roy Clare.

12:51pm: Two minute silence. Bell tolls.

1pm: Documentary When a City Falls (entry by donation).

- Herald on Sunday

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