Monday Mar 14, 2011
All Black captain Richie McCaw and two of the Crusaders horsemen have led a guard of honour to farewell earthquake victim and Crusaders boardmember Philip McDonald.
Mr McDonald, an accountant with Leech and Partners, was working at the firm's offices in the Pyne Gould Corporation building in Cambridge Tce when the earthquake struck.
The building was one of the worst affected by the quake.
More than 1000 people turned out for a funeral service for Mr McDonald at the Ashburton Trust Event Centre, which was heavily influenced by rugby and Crusader themes.
Among those who gathered to farewell Mr McDonald were New Zealand and Canterbury rugby bosses including NZRU CEO Steve Tew, New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Mike Eagle and Crusaders manager Tony Thorpe.
Mr McDonald was a prominent rugby figure in the region. He was on the board of directors for the Crusaders and the Mid Canterbury Rugby Union and had also served as chairman for Mid Canterbury.
His coffin, draped in a Crusaders flag, was carried from the centre to the sound of bagpipes and the Crusaders' theme song.
The 54-year-old was remembered as a loving father and a passionate rugby fan who was fiercely competitive and had a mischievous streak. His business partner at the accountancy firm, Gary Leech, said the world had lost a "bloody good bloke".
"Phil was unique and, as such, he simply can't be replaced."
Mr Leech said his friend would have wanted him to thank the selfless rescuers who risked their lives to save 11 of their colleagues at the Leech and Partners.
Crusaders board member Max Spence said Mr McDonald had given tirelessly to rugby over the years without reward.
Rugby was not his only sporting love. The Ashburton resident was also a keen sailor and skier.
Mr McDonald graduated from Otago University with a commerce degree in 1976 and had worked for Leech and Partners since 1988.
He is survived by wife Sharon and three children.
By Jarrod Booker
All Black captain Richie McCaw and two horsemen led the hearse down through a guard of honour after the funeral of Philip McDonald this afternoon. Photo / Sarah Ivey