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LOCAL COUPLE CAUGHT UP IN NEW ZEALAND QUAKE man from Abbots has relived his terrifying


experience of being caught up in the New


Zealand earthquake and how the goodwill of the islands‘ people saved his wedding day. Mark French, who grew up in The Fairway


was with his Kiwi fiancée Zoe Waffelbakker in her native country when the quake struck Christchurch killing more than 160 people – just three days before their big day. Mark, 29, who went to Tanners Wood Primary


School and Langleybury Secondary School, told My Abbots News how the dramatic events unfolded in New Zealand on February 21. He said: ―Zoe, my friend Benny and I were


driving on a country road about three kilometres outside of Christchurch on our way to check preparations at our wedding venue.


„We‟ve thought a lot about what might have been‟


―We became aware that something was wrong


when the car started swaying. We pulled over thinking it was a flat tyre but we were then met with the strangest noise I‘ve ever heard. ―We got out and telephone masts were swaying and the car began rocking but it was the sound


that will live with me forever. There was this deep rumbling sound which was coming up from under the earth‘s surface. It seemed to last for about 20 seconds and then it stopped. I just remember a feeling of being totally helpless and completely at the mercy of nature. ―We all jumped in the car not realising the


severity of what had happened. We didn‘t see much damage apart from a few areas where water was coming up from the earth. It wasn‘t until we turned the radio on that we realised the enormity of the quake.‖ The IT engineer‘s friend Benny who had flown


from the USA for the wedding had made a fateful decision that day, as Mark explained. ―Benny was toying with the idea of getting a bus into central Christchurch. He decided to come with us for a drive instead and we‘ve thought a lot about what might have been if he didn‘t and had headed into town.‖ While the majority of the country was coming


to terms with the disaster Mark and Zoe, 34, despite being traumatised by the quake, still had to make sure their big day went ahead. Mark, who had his mother, brother, sister and niece fly in from London for the wedding, shared how the extraordinary generosity of the New Zealanders


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