Hundreds mourn mine tragedy victim
Published 28/01/2011 | 15:12
A British miner who died in the New Zealand mining disaster has been remembered as a "real character" and a "true friend" as more than 600 people gathered for a thanksgiving service in his memory.
Malcolm Campbell, of St Andrews in Fife, was one of 29 miners who lost their lives last November following a series of explosions at the Pike River mine in Atarau on the country's South Island.
He was one of two Scots killed in the tragedy. Fellow Briton Pete Rodger, 40, from Perthshire, also died at the mine.
Hundreds of Mr Campbell's friends and family gathered for a remembrance service at St Leonard's Parish Church in St Andrews, on what would have been his 26th birthday. Among them were his fiancee Amanda Shields, 23, whom he was due to marry in December last year.
About 500 people packed into the church, where many people had to stand, and around a hundred more filled a side room from where they could listen to the service in which a sombre roll call of the 29 names of those who perished in the disaster was read out.
Leading the service, the Very Rev Dr Alan McDonald said of Mr Campbell: "We shall remember him with joy as a vital living presence and a true friend, as a boy whose roots in this part of the north-east of Fife and in the parish and community of Cameron are strong and enduring."
He recalled the former Madras College student's early fascination with motorbikes, which grew to see him compete throughout the UK in motocross and become the Scottish champion, and the minister spoke of Mr Campbell's sense of adventure, which saw him travel to Australia and then New Zealand, where he met "the love of his life".
Rev McDonald, a former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, said: "Hand in hand with our sense of loss, sorrow and bewilderment, goes an awareness of great gain, for it is people like Malcolm who bring friendship, fun, human warmth and good humour into a world that is all too short."
The ceremony, which began with the sound of a lone piper and included hymn-singing, prayers and readings, also featured a traditional New Zealand Haka, performed by three Maori rugby players based in Scotland.
Doug White, the mine's general manager, travelled over from New Zealand to speak at the service. He paid tribute to Mr Campbell, describing him as a "model employee", adding: "Malky was always smiling, always laughing and always keen to get the job done. Nothing was ever a problem. He was never afraid to have a go."