MH 17

July 18, 2014

The deaths of nearly 300 people on Malaysian Airlines MH 17 is a tragedy.

It is worst for the family and friends of those who died.

It is also very bad for the airline although at this stage it appears the plane was shot down which is quite different from the mystery disappearance of MH 370.

We also need to remember this is a war zone where innocent people are killed every day.

 


Patsy Byrne 13.7.33 – 17.6.14

June 22, 2014

British actress Patsy Byrne who played Nursie in Blackadder has died.


Casey Kasem – 27.4.32 – 15.6.14

June 16, 2014

The man who counted down the American Top-40 for decades, Casey Kasem, has died.

Kasem was already a popular disc jockey in Los Angeles when he became the host of “American Top 40″ in 1970. The syndicated show, which counted down the 40 most popular songs in the United States based on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 music chart, began on just seven radio stations but quickly became a mainstay of thousands, all around the world.

“When we first went on the air, I thought we would be around for at least 20 years. I knew the formula worked. I knew people tuned in to find out what the No. 1 record was,” he told Variety in 1989.

Kasem’s first No. 1, concluding the “AT40″ premiere show of July 4, 1970, was Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me (Not to Come).” His last on successor show “American Top 20,” almost exactly 39 years later, was “Second Chance” by Shinedown.

But the show wasn’t just about finding out who was No. 1.

Its features, included biographical details on performs, flashbacks, album cuts and Kasem’s “long-distance dedication” for listeners who wrote to dedicate songs to friends and loved ones far away.

Kasem, whose baritone was always friendly and upbeat, delivered these in his most sympathetic voice, warm enough to melt butter. “Dear Casey,” he began, and would read an emotional letter from a listener who wanted to connect with an old flame, express regret to a new love or send wishes to a far-flung family member.

The first one, for example, was from a male listener who wanted to dedicate Neil Diamond’s “Desiree” to a sweetheart named Desiree who was moving to Germany.

The show, originally three hours, expanded to four in the late ’70s. . .

My family,a nd those of many of my firends, didn’t have television in the early 70s.

We listened to the radio and Kasem’s show was one of those we listened to most weeks.

 


Eric Hill 7.9.27 – 6.6.14

June 15, 2014

Children’s author and illustrator Eric Hill has died.

Eric Hill, who has died aged 86, was one of those unusual and fortunate people whose first book was not only an immediate success but also became a staple of children’s bookshelves for decades. Where’s Spot?, a simple lift-the-flap picture book with a lovable puppy at the heart of every picture, was published in 1980. Within weeks, it was a bestseller, taken to the hearts of pre-schoolers and their parents across Britain. . .

Not just across Britain, or even the English-speaking world.

I know a wee girl in Argentina who also loves the books.


Rik Mayall 7.3.58 – 9.6.14

June 10, 2014

British comedian Rik Mayall has died.

 . . .He played obnoxious, poetry-writing anarchist Rick in The Young Ones with his friend Adrian Edmondson. The pair later starred in the sitcom Bottom.

A pioneer of the 1980s alternative comedy scene, Mayall also appeared in Blackadder and The New Statesman. . .

Edmondson added: “There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing. . . 

Writer Laurence Marks, who created The New Statesman, described Mayall as “a quiet, polite, caring gentleman”.

“He was the antithesis of the characters he played,” he said, . . .

 


Alistair Polson dies aged 58

June 6, 2014

Agriculture envoy and former Federated Farmers president Alistair Polson has died.

“Alistair was a great farmer and a truly great New Zealander who has been taken from us way too soon,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Bo and their family. 

“Bo and Alistair formed the most amazing and loving partnership and while Alistair was called overseas as Special Agricultural Trade Envoy, she kept the farm and family running.

“Where do you start with someone who gave so unstintingly of himself?  It is telling that despite Bo and Alistair’s home being inundated by the 2004 floods they put community before self.

“Alistair has been an office holder at most levels of Federated Farmers of New Zealand, serving as Wanganui provincial president and later National President between 1999 and 2002.

“Alistair has also served as a director of both the Waitotara Meat Company, PPCS (now Silver Fern Farms) and the Agriculture Industry Training Organisation. He has also served on the New Zealand Veterinary Council and the then National Animal Welfare Advisory Board.

“With a strong environmental ethos Alistair chaired the NZ Landcare Trust for seven years and in 2012, he became chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Awards Trust. 

“Chairing the New Zealand Farm Environment Awards Trust was something I know Alistair was deeply proud of.  It assured him the next generation of farmers cared for the land every bit as much as he did.

“Alistair himself won the Grasslands Memorial Trust Award for sustained improvement of pastures and sheep breeds in Wanganui hill country.  He was a past Nuffield Scholar and would later chair the New Zealand Nuffield Farming Scholarships Trust too.

“In 2004 he was appointed New Zealand Special Agricultural Trade Envoy by the Hon Phil Goff and continued in that role to 2013 under the Hon Tim Groser.

“In Argentina, for the World Farmers Organisation earlier this year, South American delegates mentioned Alistair’s name with reverence.  He was a noble man of true mana who gave his all for New Zealand.

“Alistair was a giant and his loss touches us all greatly,” Mr Wills concluded.

The Farm Environment Trust also pays tribute:

The New Zealand Farm Environment Trust has lost a truly inspirational leader.

Alistair Polson died on Thursday, June 5, following a short illness.

The well-known Wanganui farmer was a highly respected member of the farming community. He had extensive experience in business management and farming politics, serving as national president of Federated Farmers from 1999 to 2002. In 2004 he was appointed Special Agricultural Trade Envoy for New Zealand, and in 2012 he was elected chairman of the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust (NZFE).

NZFE acting chairman Simon Saunders says Mr Polson will be greatly missed by the Trust and by the wider farming community and he extends his sincere sympathy to Bo Polson and their children, Nick, Guy and Sarah.

“They have shared Alistair with so many and the loss of such a wonderful husband and father will be devastating, their family plans and dreams for the future have been so sadly taken from them.”

“Alistair made a massive contribution to New Zealand agriculture and he was a passionate and inspirational advocate for New Zealand farming. The Trust and New Zealand agriculture in general have lost a valued leader and a great friend.”

Mr Polson took over the chairmanship of NZFE in October 2012.

Prior to joining the Trust he was a member of the judging panel for the National Winner award in the Ballance Farm Environment Awards. He was a key supporter of the concept that good environmental practice and profitable farming go hand in hand.

“Alistair jumped straight into the role of chairman and he led the organisation with considerable professionalism and a huge amount of enthusiasm,” Mr Saunders says.

“He quickly grasped what the Trust was all about and his proven leadership ability was a great asset for the Trust and the Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Mr Saunders says Mr Polson had a huge amount of passion for agriculture and a warm and approachable personality.

“Alistair loved nothing more than to be able to discuss and promote all the great attributes of our agricultural industry”

Mr Polson’s achievements in agriculture were extensive. He was a former director or committee member of a number of rural-based organisations, including AgITO, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, Veterinary Council of New Zealand and NZ Landcare Trust.

An agricultural science graduate from Massey University and a Nuffield Scholar, he also held company directorships with two major meat companies.

Mr Polson farmed in the Mangamahu Valley, near Wanganui.

“The wheel has turned completely since the days when the hero in the valley was the farmer who chopped down as much bush and scrub as possible. Now the heroes are the farmers who are retiring native bush, fencing waterways and planting trees for shade, shelter and erosion control.” – Alistair Polson.

Farming and New Zealand are the richer from his contributions and the poorer for his too-early death.


Patrick George Morrison CMG – 25.4.31 – 26.5.14

June 1, 2014

One of Country Calendar’s early programmes was screening when we got to the Darfield Recreation Centre for Pat Morrison’s funeral on Friday.

He was a young man when it was filmed, about 50 years ago, but the programme showed Pat had already achieved a lot in and for farming and the community.

He continued to do even more.

Tributes could only touch on all he had done and done so well.

However, you could have walked in to the service not knowing him, and come out with a deep appreciation of him as a farmer, farming leader, community stalwart, family man and friend.

Tim Cronshaw writes:

Retired Darfield farmer Pat Morrison will be remembered for his relentless energy as the founding chairman driving out the Central Plains Water (CPW) irrigation scheme.

The farmer, irrigation champion and big business director died this week in his early 80s.

In a ceremony last month marking the first turn of the sod by Prime Minister John Key, Morrison confided that, along with others, he had spent as many as 800 days working on the scheme.

Longtime friend Fred Bull said if the truth was known, he’d probably devoted more of his time.

“It would be 800 full days because there was a lot of weeks he was in Christchurch for a day or two and I don’t think it would be there without his tenacity.”

During a long farming history Morrison was awarded a Nuffield Farming Scholarship and AC Cameron Medal and recognised for his services to farming in the honours list in the 1990s.

His commitment to public duty began as secretary of the local cricket club in 1951 and more than 60 years later he was still an active director on the CPW board, resigning as chairman after nine years in 2012.

He served with Federated Farmers, the Young Farmers Club and Malvern A & P Association and was a director of the BNZ bank. He took on the hard jobs as chairman of the New Zealand Wool Board and New Zealand Wool Services International and was a chief opponent of a proposal to put a landfill in the Malvern Hills.

Morrison had the mix of business and farming skills and connections through the industry to make him the perfect choice to lead Central Plains Water, said board member and Buddle Findlay partner Willy Palmer.

“He was respected by everyone and gave everything to any cause he pursued and did it with style and with a great sense of humour. … I don’t believe anyone else had the necessary skills to take Central Plains from a start-up company to where it got to when he resigned as chairman.” . . .

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairwoman Jeanette Maxwell said Morrison was respected by farmers for his work with Canterbury irrigation and before that with the wool industry.

“Back when I was a little girl he did a lot of work in the wool industry. He was a strong rural man and passionate about his industry. Along the way he provided strong leadership and would really drive to get things achieved.” . . .

He was a good man who gave far more than he got. His sudden death has left a big hole in his family, farming, the community and New Zealand.


Another birthday

April 22, 2014

Our family should have been celebrating another birthday today – that of our first son, Tom.

But he had a brain disorder and lived only 20 weeks.

In spite of all the tests which were carried out while he was alive and a post mortem, no cause was found for his problems and we were told it was safe to have another baby.

We did and just over two years after Tom’s birth we welcomed Dan’s arrival.

Our joy was short-lived. When he was just two weeks old Dan started having fits, which was the first sign we’d had that Tom had problems. It took a few weeks of tests while we waited and hoped. But eventually we had to accept that Dan had the same condition which had killed his brother.

He lived longer, dying 10 days after his fifth birthday, although he passed none of the developmental milestones and could do no more the day he died than the one he was born.

The year after Dan’s death we hosted an AFS scholar from Argentina.

There’s a huge element of luck in these relationships and we struck the jackpot – a lovely teenager whose family became ours.

I can’t answer the question of whether it would have been better to have healthy children ourselves or to have our exchangee and his family in our lives.

Of course I’d rather our sons were alive, happy and healthy but I wouldn’t want to shut the doors that have opened because those ones closed.

All I can say is that few people go through life untouched by sad times but it is possible to get over them and life happy lives again, not just in spite of them but sometimes because of them.

We’ve you’ve been in the dark valleys, the light and warmth on the mountain tops is even better.


Sue Townsend 2.4.46 – 10.4.14

April 11, 2014

Sue Townsend, author of the Adrian Mole books has died.

Townsend, 68, died at home on Thursday after a short illness.

The first of her comic series, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4, was published in 1982 and the eighth instalment, Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, was released in 2009.

Her other best-selling novels included The Queen and I.

Townsend, who was left blind after suffering from diabetes for many years, achieved worldwide success following the publication of the books about teenager Adrian Mole. . . .

To write as well as she did is admirable, doing so with severe health problems is even more so.


Beyond reasonable doubt

March 25, 2014

Any hopes that Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 had landed safely have been dashed.

Malaysia’s prime minister has announced that missing flight MH370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.

Najib Razak said this was the conclusion of fresh analysis of satellite data tracking the flight.

Najib Razak said this was the conclusion of fresh analysis of satellite data tracking the flight.

Malaysia Airlines had told the families of the 239 people on board, he said.

The BBC has seen a text message sent to families by the airline saying it had to be assumed “beyond reasonable doubt” that the plane was lost and there were no survivors.

There were 227 passengers on flight MH370, many of them Chinese. . . .

It is natural to continue hoping until the worst has been confirmed and now it has, beyond reasonable doubt.

Families, some of whom have lost two and three generations, and friends of passengers now know there is no hope of survivors.

But the answer to where the plane crashed leaves many more questions:

What was it doing in the southern Indian Ocean so far from its original flight path?

Who was behind the change in direction and why?

And how, when so many fear mass surveillance, can a plane disappear into thin air and it take so long to find it?

 


We must not forget

February 24, 2014

The oldest known survivor of the Nazi Holocaust has died in London, aged 110.

Born into a Jewish family in Prague in 1903, Ms Herz-Sommer spent two years in a Nazi concentration camp in Terezin. . .

A film about her life has been nominated for best short documentary at next month’s Academy Awards.

“We all came to believe that she would just never die,” said Frederic Bohbot, producer of the documentary, The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life.

Ms Herz-Sommer is said to have continued playing the works of Schubert and Beethoven until her final days.

On the film’s website, she says: “I am Jewish, but Beethoven is my religion. I am no longer myself. The body cannot resist as it did in the past.

“I think I am in my last days but it does not really matter because I have had such a beautiful life.

“And life is beautiful, love is beautiful, nature and music are beautiful. Everything we experience is a gift, a present we should cherish and pass on to those we love.” . .

In 1942, her 73-year-old mother had been transported to Terezin, also known as Theresienstadt, and then on to Treblinka, an extermination camp.

“And I went with her of course till the last moment. This was the lowest point of my life. She was sent away. Till now I do not know where she was, till now I do not know when she died, nothing.”

Ms Herz-Sommer and her son, Stefan, were among fewer than 20,000 people who were freed when Terezin was liberated by the Soviet army in May 1945.

An estimated 140,000 Jews were sent there and 33,430 died there. About 88,000 were transported on to Auschwitz and other death camps, where most were killed.

Ms Herz-Sommer’s husband, Leopold Sommer, whom she had married in 1931, died of typhus at Dachau, a Nazi concentration camp in southern Germany.

Her son, who became a concert cellist, died in 2001. . .

With her death, we lose the last first-hand knowledge of that atrocious part of world history.

We must not forget it nor the inspiration of someone who could live through such horror, retain her faith and still say she had a beautiful life.


Charlotte Dawson 8.4.66 – 22.2.14

February 22, 2014

Has depression claimed another victim?

Media personality Charlotte Dawson has been found dead in her Sydney home.

Police have confirmed a woman’s body was found at the address in Woolloomooloo and there were no suspicious circumstances.

The New Zealand-born Dawson, 47, had a history with depression.

The former model was hospitalised last year after being bombarded with vicious Twitter messages.

She was a vocal anti-bullying campaigner and had been campaigning for cancer resources. . .

Her death will be referred to a corner but no suspicious circumstances  is usually police-speak for suicide.

Depression is a serious and often misunderstood illness.

Depression.org has an 0800 number to call and advice for anyone needing help for themselves or someone else.


Shirley Temple 23.4.28. – 10.2.14

February 12, 2014

Child star and adult diplomat Shirley Temple Black has died.

Shirley Temple Black, who as a dimpled, precocious and determined little girl in the 1930s sang and tap-danced her way to a height of Hollywood stardom and worldwide fame that no other child has reached, died on Monday night at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85. . . .

After marrying Charles Alden Black in 1950, she became a prominent Republican fund-raiser. She was appointed a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly by President Richard M. Nixon in 1969. She went on to win wide respect as the United States ambassador to Ghana from 1974 to 1976, was President Gerald R. Ford’s chief of protocol in 1976 and 1977, and became President George H. W. Bush’s ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989, serving there during the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.

After winning an honorary Academy Award at the age of 6 and earning $3 million before puberty, Shirley Temple grew up to be a level-headed adult. When her cancerous left breast was removed in 1972, at a time when operations for cancer were shrouded in secrecy, she held a news conference in her hospital room to speak out about her mastectomy and to urge women discovering breast lumps not to “sit home and be afraid.” She is widely credited with helping to make it acceptable to talk about breast cancer. . . .


Pete Seeger: 3.5.19 – 27.1.14

January 29, 2014

Folk singer Pete Seeger has died.

Pete Seeger, the singer, folk-song collector and songwriter who spearheaded an American folk revival and spent a long career championing folk music as both a vital heritage and a catalyst for social change, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 94. . .


Roger Lloyd-Pack 8.2.44 – 15.1.14

January 17, 2014

Roger Lloyd Pack, better known as Trigger in only Fools and Horses and Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley, has died.

 

 

 


Ariel Sharon 26.2.28 – 11.1.14

January 12, 2014

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Shraon, has died after eight years in a coma.

Ariel Sharon was known as The Bulldozer: a larger-than-life, blustering figure who came to dominate the domestic political scene as much by his sheer physical presence as by his rhetoric.

To many Israelis, Sharon was a heroic warrior, having led decisive campaigns in the 1967 and 1973 wars.

But to many Palestinians he was The Butcher, who laid siege to Beirut and was responsible for the deaths of at least 800 civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982.

“No-one can lecture me about the need for peace,” he once said. “I am the one who was in those battles. Therefore I am the person who can prevent war.” And it is true that Sharon had fought in all of Israel’s five wars. . . .

The Telegraph has reactions from world leaders.

 

 


Farm tools not toys

January 9, 2014

The death of another child who was riding a quad bike is another tragedy.

Police are investigating and there will be an inquest.

Both are certain to reinforce what Southland Federated Farmers chair Russell MacPherson says – quads are farm tools not toys.

. . . Quad bikes looked like fun and could be fun but were terribly dangerous machines, especially in the hands of young people, Mr MacPherson said.

“This is a reminder to parents and grandparents, our children and grandchildren should not be on adult quad bikes, it’s that simple.”

Full-sized four-wheelers carried labels from the manufacturer specifying no-one under 16 should ride one.

The adult-size four-wheelers were heavy, powerful machines and needed an adult to control them, Mr MacPherson said.

“You need weight to manoeuvre and control an adult four-wheeler and kids don’t have that.”

No passengers should be carried on a four-wheeler either, unless designed to do so: passengers restrict the rider’s mobility and add weight, making it harder to control and more prone to tipping over.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the family involved, for Southland and farming communities and if anything can come out of it, it will be a reminder that four-wheelers are dangerous and potentially can kill,” Mr MacPherson said. . .

Few if any people would consider letting young children ride an adult 2-wheel motor bike; drive a tractor, truck or digger or use a chain saw.

The same cautious approach should apply to quads.

They are deceptively easy to ride in perfect conditions but they are large, heavy and unstable machines which can be very difficult for experienced adult riders to handle when even something minor goes wrong.


Sometimes your number’s up

December 27, 2013

The driver of this car was heading east.

He said he went to sleep.

The driver of a vehicle going in the opposite direction saw the car swerve into the gravel, hit a bank, fly into the air, cross the road, go over the fence without breaking a wire and come to rest on its side facing west.

If the other vehicle had been a second closer, if this car had hit a post or if the driver hadn’t been wearing a seat belt, at least one person would have been severely injured or dead.

As it is the driver had no serious injuries and no-one else was hurt.

Sometimes your number’s up, sometimes it isn’t.

car


Mandela’s funeral live-stream

December 15, 2013

TV3 is broadcasting a live stream of Nelson Mandela’s funeral here.


Nelson Mandela’s funeral live stream

December 10, 2013

TV3 is live streaming the funeral of Nelson Mandela here.


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