Mourners farewell Nathan Chapman
AMID the many happy memories shared about Nathan Chapman at his funeral in St Mary’s Church in Grafton yesterday, there was a serious message.
It was a message the late 20-year-old’s family – Helen and Bob and sisters Abby and Cassidy – wanted to get across to the 1000 or more mourners who had gathered to say goodbye to the popular young man, who died in a car accident, along with 18-year-old Kyle Clifford, in the early hours of Sunday morning in a quiet Grafton street.
And the message was simple.
Father Rex Hackett, on behalf of the Chapman family, implored Nathan’s friends to learn from their mate’s untimely death.
And to emphasise the point, Fr Hackett recalled a conversation he had with an ex-police officer this week.
“I was speaking to a ... retired policeman just yesterday when I was walking on the footbridge. He said ‘I saw a keg up in the tree where the two boys died’. He said ‘I wonder if the young people have got it yet? I wonder is that up there because that’s the only way they have a good time, or has it been put up there to remind us that it’s good in moderation?'.
“But he said to me ‘drinking and driving doesn’t mix’. That’s what he said.
“And that’s what the family want you to learn. And I hope Pastor Greg (Holder) saved some (of Nathan and Kyle’s) mates ... when he said from here on you have to look out for each other. When your friends go to make a mistake you try your best just to try and change their mind.”
Nathan Chapman made quite an impression in his short time on the planet; one of the biggest turn-outs for a funeral in Grafton’s history standing as a testament to this. There were just as many mourners outside as there were inside St Mary’s Church.
In fact one couldn’t help but be reminded of the funeral of another who died far too young, Nathan’s mate Jacob Lollback, who passed away in September last year while diving off the Queensland coast.
“I imagine Jacob Lollback was pretty stoked to see you,” Abby said in a tribute to her brother that was as moving as it was brave.
Abby was one of many to share their memories of Nathan, including his partner Jordan, his mate Daniel Lollback, Tom Eckersley and Andrew Lollback, who read out some heartfelt words on behalf of Nathan’s life-long friend, Brenton Tranter.
“There was never a dull moment, always up to something no good,” Brenton wrote.
“It’s bye for now, but not forever, I’ll love you forever and always. Brenton Tranter.”
Each speaker painted a picture of a practical joker; a person who extracted every drop of enjoyment out of his short life. As Daniel Lollback said, ‘there was never a dull moment when Chappo was around’.
He was described as a reliable and dedicated apprentice roofer, and he loved camping, surfing and having a good time with his mates.
“You never did give a toss about what anyone thought of you. What a way to live,” Abby said.
“On Sunday morning, a few hours after we’d been told we lost you, there were cars parked everywhere out the front of our house. Family, friends and people I’d never met before came to show their support and share some of our pain.
“I was standing in the front yard ... and a guy pulled up in the middle of the road and yelled from his car ‘ah ... oi, is this a garage sale?’
“After I recovered from the initial urge to rip his head clean off, I laughed about it. You (Nathan) would have thought it was absolutely hilarious. It appears you’re already pulling the strings for practical jokes up there. Keep them coming.
“I never had the privilege of meeting Kyle (Clifford), but from what I hear you two share a very similar sense of humour. Our pain is eased knowing you are not alone. At the moment every memory of you reminds me of how much we’ve lost. Hopefully one day these memories remind me of how much we’ve been blessed with. “It was a divine privilege to have you as a brother. Our family has an angel, and the sky has another star.”
Perhaps Fr Hackett best captured the sentiments of the many mourners when he said: “He lived a life that was popular.
“You loved him as he was, for who he was.
“He was Chappo.”
Kyle Clifford’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church today at 10am.