Maddeson Buck
Maddeson Buck

Sudden illness takes Maddie


WHEN Maddeson Buck gave someone a gift, she often stuck a picture of a frangipani flower on the package.

Maddeson 'Maddie' to her friends loved the flower and its bright petals were scattered though the chapel at St John's Woodlawn yesterday for a celebration of the 21 year old's life.

One of her best mates, Lyndall Phelps, said the bright petals would always remind her of the vibrant 21-year-old who suddenly died last week.

"She was always smiling and vibrant, loved the beach and always made you feel good about yourself," she said.

"Maddie had a gift of being able to befriend everyone."

The popular girl from New Brighton, who loved shopping with her mum, Bavarian chocolate cake, Missy Higgins and the Titans football team was looking forward to resuming her course at Griffith University last week.

She was studying exercise science and had moved into a unit with her boyfriend on the Gold Coast a few weeks ago.

However, as the vibrant and popular 'frangipani girl' travelled to Tamworth last week in the back seat of a car on her way to visit her boyfriend's family she started to struggle with a headache she'd had for days. Suddenly she had a seizure and was rushed to Tamworth Hospital.

During the following 12 days, a team of more than 20 doctors and nurses hovered by Maddeson's bedside.

"It was like an episode of House. Doctors were working double shifts; everyone was trying to figure out what had happened to her," said her mother Pam, who travelled to Tamworth with husband Roger to be with their beloved daughter.

"Maddeson came out of the coma for about three days and that time was a gift to us all.

"She was just so loving and pure during that time. Looking back we are just so grateful we had that time with her."

Despite tireless efforts from hospital staff, and an unconfirmed working diagnosis of viral encephaliti, the mystery was never conclusively solved.

Maddeson died on March 4.

Yesterday, Maddie's father Roger Buck asked the hundreds who had gathered at the chapel to focus on the achievements, inspiration and dreams of his daughter's life and not dwell on despair because 'that's what Maddie would have wanted.'

Her mum, Pam, said her little 'frangipani girl' had always wanted to be a physiotherapist.

"She was always strapping the joints of team-mates," she said.

She would have made a great physiotherapist too, according to one of her mentors, Byron Bay physiotherapist Phil Walsh.

"She told me she was going to come back to Byron and buy my practice one day. 'Don't worry', she said 'you can work for me.", Mr Walsh said.

Maddie was a member of the Byron Bay Surf Club and played netball for Woodlawn. She was also among the first girls to attend St John's Woodlawn,Lismore where her sporting and academic achievements matched her sparkling personality.

While the cause of Maddie's death has not yet confirmed, her mum said they were working with doctors to establish the cause because, according to her mother 'we know Maddie would have been honoured to help others out'.

During the celebration of Maddeson's life yesterday, family and friends struggled to come to terms with the shock departure of their ever-smiling 'frangipani girl.'

In the church, the yellow speckles on the delicate white petals of the frangipanis were a reminder of Maddeson's sparkling smile. For the many, many people who loved her, they epitomised a life cut down in full bloom.

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