Tragedy memorial

The Wilkinson and Sylvester families at the unveiling of the memorial seat. From left Danielle Casey, Gaby Casey, Stephen Sylvester (holding Pippa Vanderlaan), Fred Wilkinson, Michelle Sylvester, Helen Taylor, Bronwyn Koch, Dawn Sylvester, Louise Kerr.

Kathy Fennell

It was a poignant occasion in Penola last Thursday when the families of four men killed in a tragic vehicle accident six years ago on the outskirts of the town gathered with other Penola community members to unveil a bench seat in their memory.

Christopher Sylvester, Steven Whitehead, Reece Wilkinson and Nick Roser lost their lives on their way to work on November 19, 2016.

Steven Sylvester, father of Christopher said: ” On behalf of my family I would like to sincerely thank the Penola community for what they have done for us.

“Snow Merrett has been in touch with us the whole time, keeping us up to date on what was happening.

“We heard rumours that the tree was going to be cut down and we didn’t want that to happen.

“If the tree went then we would have no reason to come here,” Mr Sylvester said.

“We greatly appreciate the seat and special thanks to the Penola Men’s Shed for building it with the assistance of the Wattle Range Council,” he said.

Mr Wilkinson said: “It has been really, really wonderful the support we have had from the Penola community.

“We now have somewhere to come and reflect our memories.

“Snow Merrett (from Merrett Logging in Penola) has been absolutley fantastic in organising everything.

“We also thank the South East Car Club for their support in helping out with the car runs,” he said.

Unfortunately members of the Whitehead and Roser families were unable to attend.

The whole idea was instigated by Snow Merrett’s grandson Cameron who suggested a ‘put out your hard hat’ day with Snow suggesting a car run.

Merrett (Snow) said: “We organised the car run within seven days and the event attracted 172 cars.”

Members of the South East Street Machines Club were also heavily involved.

Club secretary, Merve Heemskerk said: “$36000 was raised from the first car run and this money was distributed between the four families of the men that were killed to assist with funeral expenses.

“This amount came from car entry fees, sponsorship and donations.”

A memorial run was held a bit later and the money from this, which was much smaller, was donated to the Emergency Services in Penola,” he said.

The car club also donated $250 to the Penola Men’s Shed which went towards the making of the bench seat.