New bridge to be named after broadcaster

Iain Gallaway at the opening of the Gallaway bridge over the Sowburn near Patearoa yesterday....
Iain Gallaway at the opening of the Gallaway bridge over the Sowburn near Patearoa yesterday. Photo by Lynda Van Kempen.
Former broadcaster Iain Gallaway admits he was stumped for words - briefly - when he discovered a new bridge spanning the Sowburn creek was being named after him.

Special guest at the bridge opening in Patearoa yesterday, Mr Gallaway admitted to feeling "deep honour ... and some embarrassment to find myself in this position".

"This is the first bridge and indeed the only thing I know of that's been named after me and at my age [88], there's unlikely to be anything else. I've always had a close attachment to Patearoa and have been coming here for holidays all my life so this is a special honour."

He lived in Dunedin but had made provision in his will for his ashes to be scattered at Patearoa, he told more than 140 people who attended the bridge opening.

The structure links Patearoa's Eastside walkway, which follows the path of the old water race next to the Sowburn, with the Westside walkway, and is about halfway between the township and Dykes Dam.

Volunteer labour built the bridge and the $16,000 project was funded by the community and by the Patearoa Community Trust, an organisation Mr Gallaway helped establish in 2003.

"Let us spare a thought for the mighty Sowburn, and how proud she will be feeling today to be spanned by this fantastic new bridge," trust chairman Sam McSkimming said.

"Those of us lucky enough to live here know never to take the Sowburn for granted. It is the lifeblood of the district, supplying the early gold miners and domestic, stock and irrigation water to Patearoa for almost 150 years. With a huge catchment, the Sowburn can be a beautiful tranquil creek or a raging flood."

The walkway was opened in 1999 and the bridge was mooted shortly afterwards by Mr Gallaway and Elaine Aitken.

"But for this project to work, there had to be someone who came along and grabbed it by the scruff of the neck. Along came John and Doris Gibson, and here, four years after negotiations to build the bridge started in 2007, is the result," Mr McSkimming said.

lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz

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