Cudgen Leagues Club members mourning the loss of a good mate.
Cudgen Leagues Club members mourning the loss of a good mate.

Tribute to Andrew Turnbull

THE children of Andrew “Packy” Turnbull will forever remember their late father as a hero.

A massive crowd of more than 1500 mourners gathered at the Cudgen Leagues Club on Saturday to pay their respects to the popular Kingscliff fire fighter, who passed away after battling a grass fire at Fingal Head a week ago.

He was 35 years old.

Mr Turnbull's son, Corey, 16, read a tribute to his late father on behalf of his brothers and sister.

“Dad, you left this world a hero and that's how I will remember you,” Corey said.

“My life with dad was unlike any other. He was always there for us and I always knew I could rely on him.

Mr Turnbull leaves behind five children and two step-children.

His youngest, Kiara, is only 12 months old.

Friends and colleagues from all eras of Mr Turnbull's life, from his days as a student at Kingscliff Public School, his security work at the Kingscliff Hotel, his 25 years with Cudgen Leagues Club and his seven years of service with the Kingscliff Fire Brigade, gathered to say goodbye.

Mr Turnbull, or “Packy” as he was affectionately known, was given full fire brigade honours at his funeral.

His coffin was brought onto Ned Byrne field on the fire brigade hearse, accompanied by his firefighter helmet and the Australian flag to a rallying applause.

Reeling from the loss of their brother, Mr Turnbull's sisters Caroline Turnbull, Annette Keighran and Sallyanne Smith recalled the fondest memories of their late brother.

“He may have lived for a short time, but he lived his life to the full. He packed more living into 35 years than most people do in a life time,” Mrs Smith said.

“I knew he always had my back, even when I deserved a lesson, he was there to protect me.”

Mrs Smith said her brother loved to help others.

“If you were his mate, he would do anything for you. Nothing was too hard for him,” she said.

“I know the proudest day in his life was when he was accepted into the Kingscliff Fire Brigade.

“I love you big brother and I will miss you forever.”

The funeral was also attended by New South Wales Fire Brigades Commissioner Greg Mullins on behalf of emergency services workers and Tweed MP Geoff Provest on behalf of the Tweed district and State Parliament.

The service was led by Mr Turnbull's brother-in-law Gifford Smith, a minister in the army and New South Wales Fire Brigade Chaplin Lindsay Smith.

Kingscliff Fire Brigade captain Brett Gray paid his respects on behalf on Mr Turnbull's fire fighting comrades.

“To me, Packy represented everything a firefighter should have: strength, determination and loyalty,” Capt Gray said.

“He was a good mate to us all, and a great member of our station.

“He will long be remembered by all of us and not just in the station but the whole community.”

Mr Turnbull's family had also received condolences from the New York, Hong Kong and London fire brigades.

A Facebook group page established in memory of Mr Turnbull a day after his death has drawn more than 1000 members, all paying tribute to the Kingscliff firefighter.

A guard of honour, comprised of Mr Turnbull's sporting team mates and fire fighting colleagues, lined Ned Byrne field at the end of the funeral as their mate made a final trip down field to the sound of applause from the grandstand.

Mr Turnbull was born in Murwillumbah District Hospital and spent his life in Kingscliff.

He attended Kingscliff public and Kingscliff high schools.

Recently he worked at Kingscliff Beach Hotel as a security guard.

He also spent 25 years with the Cudgen Leagues Club, starting in the under six division before rising to A-Grade.

Even after his retirement from the field several years ago, Mr Turnbull continued his relationship with the club by offering help anyway he could.

Prior to joining the Kingscliff Fire Brigade he was a volunteer with the Banora Point SES for five years.

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