Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Kids accept award for quake hero dad

Jaime Gilbert holding his son Levi. Photo / File / Facebook
Jaime Gilbert holding his son Levi. Photo / File / Facebook

Levi and India-Rose Gilbert will never get to know their dad, but they will always know he was "somebody special".

Jaime Gilbert died saving his sister from falling masonry during the February 22 earthquake.

His sister Amy Cooney walked hand-in-hand with Levi, 4, and India-Rose, 2, on stage to accept a special bravery award in Christchurch.

"We'll never forget him," a teary Ms Cooney said after accepting the posthumous award last night.

She was at Iconic Bar in Manchester St where 22-year-old brother Jaime worked as a barman when the magnitude-6.3 quake hit at 12.51pm.

Jaime used himself as a human shield to save her life, but was killed when crushed by falling rubble.

He was one of 172 individuals, groups, and organisations recognised at the second, and final, Christchurch Earthquake Awards.

Robert Gilbert, Jaime's father, said the award brought mixed emotion for the family, especially heading into Christmas.

"It brings back a lot of memories," he said.

"Levi and India-Rose will never know their Dad, but they will always know that he was somebody special."

Mr Gilbert said the kids, with their mum - Jaime's partner Natalie O'Brien - are "doing great".

The family is staying positive and looking forward to seeing Christchurch "rise again", he said, but admitted he was doing it tough.

"Anyone who's lost a child will know that you never find closure," Mr Gilbert said.

"You learn to live with the pain but it never goes away."

Awards were presented by Mayor Bob Parker at Christ's College to people who helped in the emergency effort or were involved in community initiatives in the wake of the disaster.

Mr Parker urged recipients not to be shy when receiving their awards which recognised their "bravery, stoicism, and courage".

The last award of the night went to masked student superheroes Flat Man, and his sidekick Quake Kid, who donated 'relief boxes' to students and those in need.

"It's really cool," said the mysterious caped crusader.

"When I set out on this adventure, I never thought I'd be getting an award, on stage in lycra, from the mayor."


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