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Simon Barnett Phil Gifford webSimon Barnett and Phil Gifford have left their days of radio hi-jinks behind. Photo supplied.Returning to radio has been a great experience, not just for himself, but also wife Jodi, says Simon Barnett.

The celebrity host, originally from Ashburton, has been out of the broadcasting studio for more than a year following Jodi suffering a seizure and requiring surgery and treatment for brain lesions.

“It’s been a pretty torrid year with my wife’s health,” the 52-year-old said.

“We are getting through it, we are convinced she’s going to get through it.”

He had been by Jodi’s side for 14 months at their Christchurch home, and had not really left her at all.

“That was probably the biggest hurdle for me, just being apart from her,” Barnett said of his return last week to radio.

He is broadcasting from Newstalk ZB’s Christchurch studio, alongside his former co-host Phil Gifford in the afternoon slot, midday to 4pm Tuesday to Friday.

Barnett said Jodi was getting stronger but still not at the stage of being left on her own, and other family members were at home with her while he worked each afternoon.

Barnett said Jodi listened every day, barely missing a single minute of their show.

And if she was not at home, such as the other day when she was in the supermarket with their daughter, she would still be listening, through earphones.

“She’s enjoying me being back on air and really loving it,” Barnett said.

“She’s always just been such a massive support in my life, I would not be the man I am and certainly would not achieve anything like the success I have, if it wasn’t for Jodi,” he said.

And it was fantastic to be working back alongside Gifford, who had moved from Auckland to Christchurch to do the show.

The pair joined More FM in 1997, coming there from 91ZM.

They built up a loyal base of fans, entertained by their hi-jinks and banter.

For Barnett and Gifford it is a completely different role this time round on talk radio.

The ZB mission is to discuss and debate the issues that matter to New Zealanders.

It’s news-based, because that is what people are talking about, but not news-heavy or adversarial, Barnett said.

And Barnett is enjoying not having to get up at 4.30am, as he had to do for almost three decades in breakfast radio.

“Every single second was precious at that hour of the morning, you were really pushed for time,” Barnett said.

By Susan Sandys © The Ashburton Guardian - 12 July 2019

Water skiing 1107George Donaldson competes at the World Under 21 Waterski Championships in Canada. Photo suppliedThe New Zealand Under 21 Water Ski Team, which features two Mid Canterbury skiers, have produced solid results at the World Under 21 Waterski Championships in Canada.

Twin brothers, Hugh and George Donaldson are currently at Edmonton skiing on the Shalom Park site, a man-made lake on the banks of the Saskatchewan River.

The pair have been competing with fellow Cantabrians, Jack Engel and Taine Gibson, coming from a New Zealand winter to compete against some of the best skiers in the world in both slalom tricks and jumps.

In order to compete in the championships, the twins took the last week of their semester off to train with New Zealander Kyle Eade in Florida and with only a short preparation time had to get back up to speed quickly.

Competition started with near perfect conditions and the New Zealand team produced some strong slalom scores.

Hugh was in particularly good form skiing to his personal best and scoring 1.5 buoys on the 12 metre line while George produced New Zealand’s top score of 3880, although lost some points for a fall on his last tricks run.

The jumps event however was the event that the Kiwi team were most looking forward to and were greeted with glass-like conditions.

George produced a best of 48.6 metres while Hugh jumped 51.2 on his second jump, just short of his personal best.

Janeen Donaldson, who is in Canada with the team said the level of competition has been impressive.

We’ve seen some outstanding skiing this week, some skiers are skiing year-round and have come here intent on breaking records.

This is a site where multiple world records have been broken. Skiers are competing for men’s and women’s slalom, trick, jump and overall titles,” she said.

“An incredible five of the eight Under 21 World Records available have been broken, and the men’s world open overall record was also closely challenged.

“Team titles were won by Great Britain, Ukraine and Canada.

“We were thrilled with New Zealand’s 11th placing out of the 22 countries competing.”

© The Ashburton Guardian - 11 July 2019

090719 LC 0035 Steve Carr Denise OHalloran Time Capsule web 665x700Former Ashburton College English teacher Denise O’Halloran and former student Steve Carr are looking forward to opening 3BT’s time capsule on August 2. Photo Linda ClarkeA secret kept for 50 years and the self-written dreams of an Ashburton College English class 23 years ago will be revealed at a special school event next month.

The August 2 event will celebrate the college’s $50 million rebuild, due to begin in late 2020, and is being organised by the school’s past pupil group, Ashcoll Alumni.

A time capsule found by alumni co-ordinator Shirley Falloon in the school’s archives will be opened on the night.

The capsule was the work of English teacher Denise O’Halloran and the class of 3BT in 1996.

O’Halloran said yesterday she remembered the lesson, in which she asked her third form (today’s Year 9) English class to profile themselves.

Students were asked to write about who they were and what they were interested in, and what they wanted to do in the future.

The work was bundled up and sealed in a large brown envelope with instructions to be opened at the college’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

That event was held in 2015, but the time capsule had been forgotten.

Ashburton accountant Steve Carr remembers the English class project and will be among a handful of classmates on hand when the capsule is opened.

“I am not much of a writer so I probably only got to three-quarters of a page.

“It was tortuous for me to write.”

He said he would take a couple of minutes to look over the work of his 13-year-old self before reading it aloud at the gathering.

He can’t recall what he wrote and is prepared for a moment of embarrassment.

Carr has been spreading the word amongst 3BT class members and hopes as many as possible will attend.

O’Halloran remembers the youngster sitting between Andrew Baird and Scott McCracken – “three bright boys” – in her class.

They are still friends.

Carr said O’Halloran came to his rescue in his last year at school when he wanted to drop compulsory English for a numbers-related subject.

In those days an exemption was needed.

He was allowed to study physics instead and went on the following year to study accounting and economics at the University of Canterbury, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce.

O’Halloran taught English for 30 years at the college, retiring only a few years ago.

ashburton college class 1996 3BT web2The students of Ashburton College class 3BT created the time capsule in an English lesson with teacher Denise O’Halloran.She misses school life and her students, but continues to observe with interest the evolution of the language and the impact of social media.

Falloon said the August 2 alumni event was being held in the college staffroom, with tours of the college by senior students starting at 4pm.

She said it would be 50 years almost to the day since the prime minister at the time Keith Holyoake laid the foundation stone at the college.

Ashburton High School and Ashburton Technical School merged in 1965, though it was several years before the existing school on Walnut Avenue was built.

Earlier this year prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced $50m would be spent rebuilding the campus.

Principal Ross Preece will speak at the alumni event about how the development will proceed.

The college has a current roll of around 1200 students and the rebuild will provide space for future role growth up to 1600 students.

Falloon said there would also be a “rather shocking but funny” revelation, about the antics of a former student during the Holyoake visit in 1969.

She was a first-year student at the time and said the entire school was under strict instructions to be on their best behaviour during the visit.

But it has been revealed recently that was not the case.

Falloon said she hoped as many former students and staff as possible would attend and share their own memories.

There will be old school photos on display around the staffroom as well as some former uniforms.

People wanting to attend need to register online via the alumni’s webpage or facebook.

The cost of admission is $20, with proceeds going to the school’s Phoenix Rising choir.

By Linda Clarke © The Ashburton Guardian - 10 July 2019