Suffolk family’s fears for man in New Zealand quake city

Family and friends of a Suffolk man feared dead in the New Zealand earthquake are clinging to hope as they wait desperately for news.

Phil Coppeard, originally from Moulton near Newmarket, had only moved to Christchurch last November with his wife, Suzanne Craig. The 41-year-old, who is a lifelong Ipswich Town supporter, was on his way to Canterbury University for what would have been the second day of his Masters course in economics when the devastating quake struck, at 12.51pm on Tuesday New Zealand time.

He was last seen boarding a bus that travels through the centre of the city but despite frantic efforts from his wife and friends in New Zealand, no-one has been able to reach him since then.

Phil's parents, Barry and Barbara Coppeard, and sister Jo Morley live in Bury St Edmunds.

'We are still waiting for news,' Mrs Morley said. 'I first heard it on the television news and then obviously tried to phone him, and tried Suzanne.

'Then my mum phoned me to tell me that she had just spoken to Suzanne and nobody had been able to contact him. It's been like that since then. Suzanne has had a lot of support over there from the British Consulate – they are supporting her and giving her information. We're doing what we have to do to get through it, but I wouldn't wish this on anybody.

'There is still a lot of work to be done in identifying the people in hospitals. We just want him to be safe.'

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Phil, a chartered accountant, attended St Felix Middle School and Newmarket Upper School before moving to study history and economics at Manchester University.

He met Suzanne, whom he married in 2007 at Hintlesham Hall, while living in London and the pair then moved to Dubai before settling in Suzanne's home country of New Zealand.

Speaking on Radio New Zealand, Suzanne said: 'My mind is spinning with the possibility that he's either seriously injured and unidentified in the hospital or else in some debris somewhere in the centre of Christchurch – or the worst scenario, that he's in a morgue somewhere.

'I've gone through all the official channels and I'm constantly calling the numbers I've been given to try to track him down. I'm just waiting for some news.'

Ipswich Town fan Phil was a regular contributor to fan site Those Were the Days, and passed on the remainder of his 10-year season ticket to the Supporters' Club which gave them sufficient funds to help sponsor Jordan Rhodes and then Ronan Murray.

Jon Craig, the Supporters' Club's overseas branch co-ordinator, met Phil during a European match about 10 years ago.

'He's a massive fan,' Jon said. 'After all, he bought a 10-year debenture so you can't get much bigger than that.

'When the club was in trouble, he put his hand in his pocket to help. He's a good bloke.'