Memorial service for New Zealand mine tragedy victim

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The fiancee of a young Cameron man killed in New Zealand travelled to St Andrews to join his family and friends in a celebration of his life.

Amanda Shields, from Greymouth on the South Island, was due to marry 25-year-old Malcom Campbell in December.

Tragically, he was one of the victims of the mining tragedy which occurred there in November.

Amanda, accompanied by her daughter, Sophie, gathered instead with many others for an emotional memorial service in St Leonards Church last Friday morning.

Malcolm died along with 28 others in a series of explosions at the Pike River mine at Greymouth, on the western coast.

His parents, Jane and Malcolm snr, and sister Kerry, were joined by hundreds of people who turned out to pay their respects as the church and adjacent hall filled up well before the service began.

The altar was decorated with pictures of Malcolm along with his mining hat and a memorial stone dedicated to him by the Pike River Mine Company.

Flower of Scotland was played by a piper, a song Malcolm was known to have sung many a time as he travelled through Australia and New Zealand with his cousin.

Mourners then heard tales of Malcolm’s early years in Cameron, where he tinkered with motorbikes and dreamed up schemes he hoped would make him a millionaire one day.

Malcolm’s time at Greymouth was recalled by Pike River mine boss Doug White, a fellow Fifer, who had returned from New Zealand to attend the service.

He described how he first met “Malky” at the mine and how his larger than life personality made a big impression on everyone who met him.

Before long his mechanical skills came to the fore and he quickly became known as the “guy who could fix anything.”

A roll call of all the victims of the tragedy was read out at the request of the Campbell family, a moment that had left a lasting impression on them when they attended a memorial service for the men at Greymouth last December.

Friday’s service ended with a New Zealand ‘‘Haka’’ - a traditional dance form of the Maori of New Zealand.

Afterwards, the Campbell family, together with Amanda and Sophie, greeted mourners as they left the church.

Last week a coroner in New Zealand ruled that all 29 miners died quickly after the first explosion at the mine on November 19.

Death certificates for the men will now be issued but efforts to recover their bodies are still on hold owing to the dangerous conditions in the mine.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry has been set up to investigate the cause of the disaster.