BIG WEEK: Brock Curtis, 17, of Wollongbar, will receive a bravery award on Tuesday.
BIG WEEK: Brock Curtis, 17, of Wollongbar, will receive a bravery award on Tuesday.

Young hero is ready to heal

AFTER a year of tragedy, loss and heartache, Brock Curtis, 17, sees his trip to Sydney next week to receive a bravery award at Government House as a turning point.

Eight months ago, Brock and his friend Peter Edmonds, both of Wollongbar, were bodyboarding at Ballina’s Lighthouse Beach when Peter was bitten by a bull shark. Brock tried to save his best mate from being mauled despite knowing the shark shark was nearby.

The young man dragged Peter onto the beach where he performed CPR and dialled triple-0, but Peter’s leg injuries were so serious he died from loss of blood at the scene.

Sadly, Brock’s father, Darren Curtis, died two weeks ago after a long illness. It’s been an incredibly tough year for a 17-year-old.

But Brock and his mother Victoria Mathew believe that after next week’s bravery award ceremony, he will be able to let go a little more of the memories of that terrible day.

Everything that surrounds Brock – his surfboard, his music, reminds him of Peter.

“I miss him a lot. It doesn’t hurt as much as it did, but the award reminds me about him and the stuff we did – surfing and hanging out. But I’ve slowly let it go, bit by bit, and after the award ceremony there won’t be too many things to remind me about it,” Brock said in a soft voice.

As well as receiving the Royal Lifesaving Society’s Bravery Award on Tuesday at Sydney’s Government House, Brock is looking forward to visiting Sydney for the first time. His mate, Jamie Hanna, another great friend of Peter’s, and Peter’s mother, Lisa Edmonds, are also coming to Sydney for the ceremony.
It’s a week of treats.

“On Monday afternoon I’m spending time with the surf lifesavers at Bondi Beach. It will be awesome. On Friday night my favourite band in the world is playing at Byron High – Parkway Drive – and on Saturday I’m second best man at Peter’s sister’s wedding. It will be huge.”

Brock has bought new footwear he’s christened ‘pimp shoes’ for the awards ceremony and will wear his Dad’s black trousers and a pink tie.

Mrs Mathew said Brock wouldn’t be faring so well if not for the support of Ballina-Byron Family Centre youth worker Michael Pigmore.

“Brock didn’t want counselling but he and Mick have a special bond and they talk and hang out,” she said. When Brock needs to offload, he spends time with Mick.”

Peter Edmonds’ family has also been tremendous, taking Brock on as family and welcoming him into their home whenever he wants to visit.

Brock’s family is also grateful for the wonderful community support they’ve received.

“St Vincent de Paul were fantastic, they came around and filled up the house with food. And River City Church in Ballina donated $200 for the trip, Rex paid for our airfares and the Menzies Hotel gave us the accommodation. It’s been amazing,” Mrs Mathew said.

On Tuesday, Brock will honour his close friendship with Peter and remember the good times and their shared sense of humour.

Mrs Mathew says Brock has always been a practical joker but she was pleasantly surprised recently when his sense of humour came back.

“He recorded the school bell on his mobile and during a class with a relief teacher he played it back and the class got to finish ten minutes early,” she said. “I’m just amazed after all that he’s been through that he’s still going to school every day, still smiling and doing chores. I’m the proudest Mum in the world.”

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