CTV victim's passion for baking kept alive

By Samantha McPherson

Alex McBryde
Alex McBryde

When Lesley Thomson died in the CTV building on February 22, 2011, her daughter Alex, lost one of her best friends.

But Alex McBryde, 27, has kept her mother's passion for baking alive and made sure she baked her heart out in memory of her mum on TV3's Chelsea New Zealand's Hottest Home Baker.

"Mum was very much a kitchen mum. Cooking and baking was something that we would always do together and we always had a good time. It's a good memory and I always feel close to her when I am in the kitchen," she said.

On February 22, 2011 Mrs McBryde was sitting at her desk in the Grant Thornton House opposite the Cathedral waiting for her husband, Richie, to meet her for lunch.

"Those lunch plans went out the window pretty quick. As soon as we felt the shake I got straight under my desk. As soon as I could, I got out of the building and went into the square. It was like I had walked into a disaster scene in a movie. The statue had fallen down, there was dust and rubble.

I couldn't find anyone I knew and I was in a daze for about 10 minutes. Richie just appeared and found me. We were pretty lucky to find each other," she said.

"Richie and I walked home through flooded streets to our house in Mairehau. The house was fine, we were really lucky. We just got right out of the city."

Before the earthquake, Mrs McBryde said her mum, who she was supposed to be having dinner with that night, had a doctors appointment in the CTV Building.

"We worked out that she should have just been leaving the building shortly after the earthquake happened. We had tried to call her and text her but couldn't get through. We figured she may have lost her phone or she may have been in Hagley Park. We had talked to people at her work, who were all fine, and they said she had left just after 12pm for her appointment," she said.

Mrs McBryde said at that stage she realised her mum's survival chances were slim.

"We didn't have any confirmation of her death for two weeks. It was a big shock. We attended a missing family conference and we knew it was certain we had lost her. It still took a while for us to get an answer. I was lucky to have a great mum for 24 years rather than not having her at all. I can't dwell on the fact that we lost her," she said.

Mrs McBryde, who moved to Auckland six weeks after the earthquake, is planning to come back to what she considers is still her home town in Christchurch.

"It was a hard memory living here after the earthquake. It was like we were living in a constant reminder of what had happened. I am still a Cantabrian at heart and still support the Crusaders," she said.

"The show was a great experience. I really enjoyed myself. I was able to use family recipes and adjust them slightly which made me feel closer to mum while I was on the show. Even though I didn't win I know she would have been incredibly proud of me. I was one of the top six contestants."

- CHRISTCHURCH STAR

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