The loss of children and the feelings of children involved in tragedy are never far from the mind of Shannon's Shirley Hick.
When she heard of the shooting in Christchurch on Friday, and with the anniversary of the Wāhine disaster nearing she especially remembered the feelings she and her remaining children had as they went through their painful experience of losing a child in the sinking of the Wāhine in 1968.
Shirley is almost 80 and house-bound. Remembering her own pain, which after many years is still raw, she wanted to do something for those who suffered in Christchurch. She contacted her neighbour, local councillor Ross Campbell and his wife Janette for help.
"She had decided to donate a number of her soft toys to the children who had suffered in the Christchurch massacre and needed help to get them there," said Janette.
The Campbell's daughter is PA to the owner of an Early Childhood Home-Based Care Service known as PAUA which has branches all over NZ.
"One of the children who was killed attended a PAUA programme so great sadness was being felt throughout their contacts. We made the call to PAUA who very kindly said that they would distribute the toys to the children who had been affected on Shirley's behalf if we could get them over to their head office in Whanganui."
So the Campbells loaded over 50 of Shirley's beloved soft toys, collected over many years in their trailer.
"She hugged each one as she said goodbye and told them to "behave themselves" and away we went to deliver them to PAUA Early Childhood Home-Based Care Service.
"So over the next little while they will be on their way to bring a little joy and happiness to children who have suffered so greatly in this awful tragedy. Thank you Shirley," said Janette.