Surrounded by friends and family, parents Neil and Lisa Edmonds leave the Baptist Church in Alstonville following the service
Surrounded by friends and family, parents Neil and Lisa Edmonds leave the Baptist Church in Alstonville following the service Jacklyn Wagner

Sad goodbye to gentle giant

PETER Edmonds loved to get around in a 'flanno' shirt, boardies and yellow sunglasses.

Yesterday, that was how more than 300 friends and family members - many wearing flannelette - remembered the 16-year-old Wollongbar youth, who died after being attacked by a shark at Ballina last Tuesday, despite the brave efforts of his mate Brock Curtis, who brought his friend ashore.

In a moving service at the Alstonville Baptist Church, Peter was remembered as a trend-setter - someone who loved food, mates, surf and life - and who taught others how to live.

"Surfing was his life. His wish was to die in the surf," Peter's sister Shelley said as she struggled to hold back tears.

"He died doing what he loved. I feel proud and honoured to call him my brother."

Two longboards, a boogie board, towel and board shorts were draped on the altar at the church in honour of Peter, who had been a member of the Lennox Longboarders Club since he was 12.

Tribute notes and photos adorned the foyer wall, describing 'Big Pete' as 'happy', 'fun', 'colourful', 'loving', 'unforgettable', 'champion'.

The funeral service began with the stirring song Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley, and included a slide show featuring images of Peter's childhood, set to Men at Work's Down Under.

A second slide show featuring Peter in a black dress skylarking to Spiderbait's cover version of the song Black Betty, allowed the bereaved to share a moment of sad, gentle laughter as they reflected on the quirky young man they knew and loved well.

"You always knew how to make us laugh," Peter's other sister Kylie said.

"You inspired us to do so many things we thought we couldn't do.

"When we are together again, we'll have eternity to muck around like we always did."

Peter's uncle, Sean Phillips, spoke about the loving nephew who had made him so proud.

"Peter was a humble person who had time for everyone, including the fridge," Mr Phillips said.

"His sense of humour was second to none and his smile was infectious.

"He truly was an amazing person."

Brock stood side-by-side with Peter's other best mate, Jamie Hannah, as they sadly applauded their lost friend.

"I never pictured myself speaking at my best mate's funeral," Brock said.

"Pete had such a big influence on all our lives ... he changed our lives for the better.

"He got me into surfing and taught me the meaning of the ocean, and for that I am grateful."

Alstonville High School principal David Silcock said it was kids like Peter who made going to work worthwhile.

"When I think of Peter, I think of a young man who was courteous and who displayed great integrity," Mr Silcock said.

Lennox Head Longboarders' Paul Hicks said he remembered Peter 'always being in the water'.

"Pete, save a wave for us and we'll catch it up there (in heaven),' he said.

"See you mate."

A private cremation service was held after the funeral.



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