A heartfelt tribute triggered an outpouring of emotion for a Limestone Coast teenager who died suddenly in Adelaide last month.
- An emotional paddle out to honour teenager William Fry attracted dozens of friends and family to Beachport
- William described as a “future leader” of the Beachport Surf Life Saving Club
- A memorial service will be held at Beachport on Thursday to honour William’s life
Dozens of people lined the beach and jetty at Beachport yesterday as 17-year-old William Fry was honoured with an emotional paddle out by his closest friends and family.
William is being remembered as a talented soccer player and a future leader of the Beachport Surf Life Saving Club.
He played with the Eastern United FC in Adelaide and was considered to be among the state’s leading young goalkeepers.
William died at the Pembroke Boarding House in Adelaide from a sudden medical event last month.
At the paddle-out event, William’s mother Rachel described her son as an “old soul” with a big heart.
“From a very young age he just connected [with people], it didn’t matter who you were, what you look like, how old you are,” she said.
“He’s just able to resonate with everybody – he’s the heart and soul.”
Beachport Surf Life Saving Club president Peter Phillips said a paddle out was a special way to pay tribute to him.
“A paddle out is all about coming together as a community in the water, having a minute’s silence, holding hands,” Mr Phillips said.
“It was really, really powerful and a lot of healing happened.”
While it honoured William, Mr Phillips said it also gave people an opportunity to share their own pain.
“A lot of people were able to get a lot of emotions out that they’ve maybe been struggling with or holding in,” he said.
“So that’s the purpose of a paddle out, supporting those who are hurting and also paying tribute to Will and feeling close to him by being in the ocean.”
Mr Phillips said William was a genuine person..
“He was identified so early on within Surf Life Saving South Australia as having leadership potential which was so lovely to see,” Mr Phillips said.
“I can’t say enough nice things about him – he was the real deal.”
A ‘huge loss’
“It’s really a huge loss to the community, particularly this small community,” Mr Phillips said.
William’s former soccer coach Adam Hodge, from the Apollo Soccer Club in Mount Gambier, said he was struggling to come to terms with his passing.
“You know he was one of the greatest humans to walk the planet,” Mr Hodge said.
“He just did good everywhere he went and it just seems a little bit unfair that he’s the one that’s been taken from us.”
Close friend Charlie Facy said he was going to miss his mate.
“We were close enough to have a chat about how things were really going,” Mr Facy said.
“He went straight from being here to not being here any more.
“It was a good day to send him off though, really memorable.”
Life to be celebrated
A memorial service to celebrate Will’s life will be held in the seaside town on Thursday.
“We don’t want it to be sorrowful. We want it to be happy, bright, vibrant, and celebrate how much he was able to pack into 17 years,” William’s mother Rachel said.
“There’s so many different walks of life that he was part of, it will be great that those people can share that and come celebrate too.
“Hold each other tight, look after each other.
“Will would say look after each other, look after the world and make it a better place.”