Timaru fan spends final moments watching Black Caps victory

Long-time cricket fan Noel Veitch died aged 73 during the final day of New Zealand's historic ICC...
Long-time cricket fan Noel Veitch died aged 73 during the final day of New Zealand's historic ICC World Test Championship final against India. Photo: Supplied via NZ Herald
Noel Veitch started playing cricket when he was 11 and yesterday the cricket nut died watching the Black Caps' historic World Test Championship win over India.

The 73-year-old Timaru stalwart died unexpectedly of a heart attack in bed with the cricket match on the telly - an end his daughters Vickie Elliotte and Deborah Absolom said was fitting.

"He would have been a very happy man with that win," Absolom said.

Veitch played for Timaru's Star Cricket Club well into his 40s and in his later years spent many hours on the sideline cheering on his three grandsons who followed in his footsteps.

Among Elliotte's most cherished memories are of the school holidays in which her dad, a teacher, spent hours throwing a netball around with them or trying, unsuccessfully, to teach them to play cricket.

"Neither of us can throw a cricket ball," Absolom laughed.

It wasn't just cricket he was passionate about. Veitch was a massive fan of the Otago Highlanders and still got together with the members of the Dunedin Teachers College team he played for.

Having two girls also spurred along a keen involvement in netball.

One of Absolom's most treasured memories are of the years he spent coaching her netball team and having him right beside her during the highs and lows of the game.

But Veitch was equally as passionate about teaching - a career which started when he left Timaru for teachers college in 1967.

He was pleased to find he had been posted back to Timaru when he graduated and spent his first working years at Timaru Main School from 1970.

It was the start of a 42-year career in which he combined his love of sport and his passion for teaching.

He also taught at Waimataitai School before taking up the deputy principal role at his childhood school, Timaru South, where he spent the last 18 years of his career.

"He loved teaching," Elliotte said. It's clear he passed that on to his daughters who are both also teachers.

They recall conversations with their dad about whether he would ever want to take on a principal's role but he explained it was the time in the classroom with his students that kept him in the career for so long.

Towards the end of the girls' primary school years, Veitch asked them if it was okay if he moved to teach at their school.

The worst part, they said, was not being allowed to be in his class while listening to all their friends rave about how fun he was.

Di Jones, who described Veitch as her mentor in her early years of teaching, said Veitch was not only a teacher but a friend to his pupils.

"He had an amazing way with children. He always brought out the best in them," she said

He was heavily involved with sport at each school he worked at and was a life member of the Canterbury Primary School Sport Association.

Elliotte said he always believed sport was a great leveller in that no matter what background a child came from, they could succeed in the field of sport.

She said it had saddened him that even that had changed in recent years so the family saw it fitting to ask, in his death notice, for donations to Timaru South School for sports equipment in lieu of flowers.

As for family, he was "devoted" to his two daughters and five grandchildren, Elliotte said.

He travelled for a couple of years after he retired in 2012 but since then he had spent as much time as possible with his grandkids and was on the sideline of their sports games whenever he was able.

"When the grandkids came along we were not the apple of his eye anymore," Elliotte laughed.

Veitch had developed Parkinson's in recent years, which was slowing him, but he never let it get him down.

"It must have been incredibly difficult for him because he couldn't move like he wanted but not once did he ever complain. He was always really positive."

Veitch will be farewelled at what is likely to be a large service at Sopheze On The Bay at 1.30pm on Thursday.

His 40-plus years of teaching in Timaru and his involvement in sport meant he was "unbelievably well-known", Elliotte said.

"You couldn't go anywhere without finding someone he knew."

 

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