Gatherers find refuge at college
NELSON - Nelson College and the Salvation Army came to the rescue of more than 100 wet and weary people who left The Gathering with nowhere to sleep on Sunday night.
Nelson Salvation Army officer Graham Medland said Nelson College headmaster Salvi Gargiulo was "absolutely marvellous" in opening the college to the visitors - and personally driving them to their shelter.
The Salvation Army had been asked by St John Ambulance to help, and set up a base at its Rutherford Street church, Mr Medland said. [see note 1 at end of article].
They were unsure how many people to expect and when they would arrive.
Throughout Sunday night until 1am on Monday, buses brought more than 100 people and the Salvation Army provided bread, baked beans, tea, and coffee to most.
Mr Medland said backpacker hostels and motor camps were found to be all full. He contacted Mr Gargiulo, who said the college could take some people.
"Salvi was absolutely marvellous," Mr Medland said.
"Not only did he make these facilities available, he drove back and forth between the church and the college to transport these people. We were still doing it at 1.30am."
The college ended up with 130 people staying at Barnicoat House, Fell House, and on mattresses on the gymnasium floor.
Mr Medland said the visitors were grateful to get their first hot shower in three days.
The Gathering actually contacted the Salvation Army on January 1, to request warm clothes and blankets for cold and wet Gatherers. At that point, the Salvation Army also offered their hall in Motueka for Gatherers leaving the event on January 2, should this be required. On January 2 they also provided more warm clothes for use up the hill, and their hall in Motueka was used as the first point of call for Gatherers taken from the site suffering from mild hypothermia. We'd like to thank the Salvation Army and Salvi Gargiulo, the headmaster of Nelson College for all their help.