A sad story about a former Technical Advisor of the Manu Samoa, Andrew Strawbridge, has had a happy ending.
On Thursday night, families, friends and supporters of Mr. Strawbridge gathered at the New Zealand High Commissioner’s residence to acknowledge the Strawbridge family’s donation of NZ$70,000 ($T112,000) to the National Health Services (N.H.S).
Among the guests were the caretaker Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Tuitama, N.H.S staff and officials from the Samoa Rugby Union.
The guests were welcomed by High Commissioner, Jackie Frizelle. She recalled the time she discovered that Mr. Strawbridge was fighting for his life at the Moto’otua hospital, after he became ill during his flight to Samoa for the historical Manu Samoa vs All Blacks game in July. “We were all on the midst of this rugby euphoria and that was when I first heard that Andrew was critically ill in the I.C.U,” she said.
“I never at that time thought we would be gathering here today to give thanks for his incredible recovery and to give thanks to the dedicated doctors, nurses and other staff members for their hard work.”
The gathering also honoured all the people who have shown their love, support and care for the Strawbridge family. Not only to the Samoan community but acknowledgement was extended to the support by the people back in New Zealand.
Mr. Strawbridge was not able to travel to Samoa. But his wife, Laura Strawbridge, fought back tears of joy when she addressed the audience.
“I have to say that it is a pleasure for me to be standing here before all of you today. I am very pleased to have come this far and I have a husband, still…with one eye,” she said.
“So as far as family life is concerned, we are back to normal but it’s not at all back to normal because every day is a very, very special gift.”
Laura acknowledged the help of David Galler and his team at the hospital. “The support we received from the Manu Samoa, the New Zealand High Commission, the hospital and the New Zealand Rugby team during my time here in Samoa and the Chiefs and of course the Waikato Hospital. I was so lucky to have all their support.”
The Give a little Appeal was an initiative Laura’s best friend, Deborah Cochrane came up with. “I am happy that a lot of people have recognized and realized that Samoa is so special to New Zealand and showed their support by helping us,” she said. Speaking about their journey to collect and fundraise money for the Give a little Appeal, Laura said it had been amazing.
“We did it, and I have my best friend Debs to thank for that.”
She acknowledged all the support of everyone who donated and supported them. “I want to thank everyone who helped me and Andrew through our toughest time and who have contributed in taking care of Andrew.
“And on behalf of him and my family, I would like to thank each and every one of you for the generosity.”
Laura Strawbridge and Deborah Cochrane were able to raise almost NZ$70,000 at the end of their appeal.
Leituala Dr. Ben Matalavea, of the N.H.S spoke on behalf of the Caretaker of the Minister of Health and the NHS staff to thank the Strawbridge family.
“We are proud to know that Andrew is doing fine and that he has recovered,” he said.
“I want to especially thank Laura Strawbridge and Deborah Cochrane for their great help and contribution to the NHS in Samoa. On behalf of all the patients and the staff of NHS I would like to thank each and every one of those who donated to this appeal. Dr. Matalavea also told everyone that one New Zealand tourist approached Dr. David Geller and gave him ND$1,000 at Moto’otua as a token of appreciation for taking care of Andrew when he was here.
“I would also like to acknowledge all the support from the people of New Zealand back at home,” he said.
Dr. Matalavea said that the publicity work the Strawbridge family has done attracted other companies from New Zealand companies to donate and offer equipments to improve the service at NHS in Samoa.
“Sometimes, we cannot turn back time and change what happened. But we can make the most of the situations we find ourselves in. So from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your generosity.”