‘It’s just like the Blitz’

The spire of the iconic stone Christchurch Cathedral toppled into a central city square in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday killing at least 65 people and trapping dozens in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT
The spire of the iconic stone Christchurch Cathedral toppled into a central city square in Christchurch, New Zealand, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011. A powerful earthquake collapsed buildings at the height of a busy workday killing at least 65 people and trapping dozens in one of the country's worst natural disasters. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Mark Mitchell) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT
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A WIRKSWORTH gran has been caught up in the devastating earthquake in New Zealand.

Beryl Tacon, 82, of the Market Place, arrived in Christchurch the day before the massive earthquake struck New Zealand’s cathedral city.

Beryl Tacon

Beryl Tacon

Mrs Tacon checked in to her hotel on Tuesday, opposite the historic Cathedral which she was set to visit that day, but at 12.50pm the 6.3 magnitude quake hit, damaging buildings and injuring people.

Mrs Tacon’s daughter Christine, of Macclesfield, spoke to her mother at 5am on Wednesday.

She said: “She lay on her bed with a pillow over her head, as instructed by a friend only the day before, and then walked out into the street unharmed.

“She likened the street to being just like after the Blitz, which she lived through in Norwich as a child. It is just amazing that she is okay.

“Luckily she was a bit slow getting going that morning, as a result of jetlag, as her first plan of the day was to visit the cathedral, which came down.”

Christine said she had been inundated with phone calls from her mother’s friends in Wirksworth to find out if she was okay.

“She doesn’t have anything with her. She left all of her clothes, passport and medication in the hotel and obviously it is too dangerous to go back in.

“The Kiwis have been brilliant. The police moved everyone out of the city centre and she ended up at the rugby club where a kind neighbour offered to take up to six elderly people and she spent the night in an armchair.”

She added: “There are still lots of aftershocks and terrible stories of people who haven’t fared so well.”

Mrs Tacon, who was in New Zealand to see her daughter Joy Tacon compete in the World Senior Tennis Championships set to be held this week, is currently staying with a friend just outside Christchurch.