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Media release March 3, 2016 – Cricketing legend honoured in Birkenhead

Village named in honour of Bert Sutcliffe MBE


Ryman Healthcare’s new Birkenhead village has been named in honour of cricketing great Bert Sutcliffe.

Bert was a superb cricketer who captained New Zealand and became an inspiration to generations of Kiwis. A talented left hander, Bert had a stellar first class and international career despite having his playing days limited by war service.

After he retired he spent the rest of his career coaching, and inspired and provided wisdom to thousands of aspiring cricketers.

The name for the new $120 million village was suggested by Birkenhead locals, and Bert’s children Gary Sutcliffe, Lynn Scott and Christine Philippe agreed.

Gary Sutcliffe said: “When Ryman contacted me late last year with a proposal to name a new retirement village in Birkenhead after Dad, my first thought was “wow”!  Then I wondered what Dad might have thought about this?  On talking with Christine and Lynn, we quickly realised that Dad, in his usual modest way, would have been honoured. And so are we!”

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White welcomed the recognition of Sutcliffe.

“Bert was judged by many to be the best left-hander of his time; a storybook hero who, more than any other cricketer, helped gain international respect for New Zealand,“ said Mr White.

“Good-natured and full of grace, Bert was much more than just a cricketer. He was a wonderful husband, father and grand-dad; he was a skilled musician who taught himself how to play piano and guitar, a keen fisherman and gardener, and a dedicated home handyman whose motto was ‘do it once and do it right’.”

“It’s fitting that such a wonderful new village should be named after a local North Shore identity who gave such great service to the game he loved.”

Simon Challies, Managing Director of Ryman Healthcare, said it was a privilege to be able to honour Bert Sutcliffe.

“He was a Kiwi hero who summed up all that is great about cricket. As well as an extraordinary talent, he played in an era when players made huge sacrifices to play the game.  He grew up playing cricket on the shore so we thought it was a really appropriate name for our village. We know Bert Sutcliffe is a name all our residents will know and identify with.’’

The new Birkenhead village will open later this year. The village on Rangatira Rd is Ryman Healthcare’s 31st village, and will include 227 independent apartments, 83 serviced apartments, and care for up to 100 residents in its care centre. The care centre will include resthome, dementia and hospital care as well as assisted living for residents in its serviced apartments.

The village will also include resort facilities including a swimming pool, spa, movie theatre, library, beauty and hairdressing salons, and a bowling green.

About Bert Sutcliffe:

Born in Auckland, Bert went to Takapuna Grammar on the North Shore and showed huge promise as a young cricketer, captaining the school’s first XI and scoring more than 2,700 runs for the college. In 1945 he was called up for service with the 15th reinforcements, never fired a shot in anger but managed to play a lot of cricket in Egypt, and even in Italy and Japan.

The talented left-handed batsman’s career blossomed after the war and he set a number of national and international batting records, becoming one of the most successful international cricketers New Zealand has produced.

He is perhaps best known for his courageous innings against South Africa in the Boxing Day Test of 1953. This was the Test in which Bert’s team-mate, Bob Blair, received a telegram in the early hours of the second day, advising of the death of his fiancé in the Tangiwai Rail Disaster. As the team left for the ground later that morning, a stricken Blair remained at the hotel mourning his loss.

On a treacherous wicket - and in the days before helmets - Bert was felled by a bouncer from fast bowler Neil Adcock; collapsed at the ground and at the hospital - but insisted on returning to Ellis Park to help his team-mates, who by this stage had lost another of their own to hospital and were in dire straits at six down.

His head swathed in bandages, Bert launched a famous counter-attack, hitting the second ball he received for six and continuing to clear the fence as partners arrived and departed all around him. After the ninth wicket fell, and Bert was walking off thinking the innings was over, out of the tunnel walked Bob Blair – who’d been listening to the game at the hotel and had rushed to the ground to help.

It was then that the Ellis Park crowd, so raucous a moment earlier, fell silent. As Bert remembered, “you could have heard a pin drop”. He went to Bob, placed an arm around his shoulders and said: “C’mon mate – let’s throw the bat at the ball and get the hell out of here.”

Together the pair did just that, adding a quickfire 33 runs for the final wicket. Bert was left unbeaten on 80 after hitting seven sixes, but in a final gesture of respect, stood back to allow his grieving team-mate to enter the tunnel first and receive the acclaim of the crowd.

After retiring from cricket Bert went on to become a coach and was awarded an MBE for his services to sport. He died in 2001.

About Ryman Healthcare: Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies.  The company owns 30 villages and serves 9,000 residents in New Zealand and Australia.  Each village offers a combination of retirement living and aged care.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Corporate Affairs Manager David King on 03 366 4069 or 021 499 602.

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