Handwritten letters from students in Feilding have warmed the hearts of emergency service workers in quake-stricken Christchurch.
The letters were prompted by 13-year-old Ryan Harrison, the son of Palmerston North-based Inspector Mark Harrison, who is in charge of the family liaison aspect of the earthquake operation.
"Everybody is doing stuff for the people of Christchurch and missing out are the emergency service people who are helping out as well," said Ryan, who is in Year 9 at Feilding High School.
He enlisted the support of English teacher David Byrne to help turn his letters idea into reality and then encouraged a couple of classes to join in.
Around 50 letters were written by the students, boxed up, and sent south to Mr Harrison, who then handed them out around Christchurch to Police, Urban Search and Rescue, Civil Defence workers and military personnel.
And there's a proud father out there - read on:
Mr Harrison, who also led the family liaison phase for the Pike River Mine tragedy and as such has spent very little time at home with his own family over recent months, was touched by his son's gesture.
"That's the sort of kid he is. It was a really good thought and once he gets an idea in his head, there's usually no stopping him.
"The letters were incredibly well-received. There are a lot of us working down here who have kids back home, and to hand out the letters is a good feeling.
We reckon that's great stuff. We heard of comments made by a USAR member to a local service club very recently, and these guys have had a harrowing time both in Christchurch and in Japan. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.
The USAR chap also spoke of the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami. The Daily Telegraph in the UK has just released this video footage of the tsunami hitting the village of Kesenumma, north of Tokyo. It's hard to watch, but it's also compelling, showing as it does the gathering force of the tsunami. What was reported to us from the USAR guy's talk was that debris from the tsunami was found 70 to 80 metres above sea level when the wave pushed upwards against any resistance it met. We live just a few streets away from the sea; maybe six or seven metres above the high tide mark. It's made us think!
Anyway, back to the original topic. We join with Ryan Harrison and his schoolmates from Feilding in saying a huge "thank you" to all those emergency services personnel who have given service far and above the call of duty in the most difficult and distressing circumstances. You guys are REAL heroes, and although you will all downplay it and say that you're "just doing your job", we all know that that's not the case.
As life slowly returns to normal, we hope that you nall get the opportunity to rest, to refresh, and most of all to reflect on the fact that you have made a huge difference in people's lives, and there can be no higher calling than that.