'He was everybody's son' - 1000 people farewell boating death boy

Jack Martin died at Blue Lake, St Bathans. Photo / Supplied
Jack Martin died at Blue Lake, St Bathans. Photo / Supplied

Waikouaiti has farewelled one of its youngest.

About 1000 people gathered at the Eastern Rugby Football Club in Waikouaiti today to remember and farewell 12-year-old Jack Martin, who was tragically killed after a boating incident on St Bathans' Blue Lake last week.

"A true son of the East Otago community - our boy was your boy," his father, Neil Martin, said to those in attendance.

"He was everybody's son. A generous and loving son who was loved by all who knew him, even if only for a short time.

"He had that effect on people but he never knew that - he had no idea how much of a stand-out kid he was." Jack excelled at cricket and rugby and many members of the Otago sporting fraternity joined in paying their respects.

As Jack played his last innings, a guard of honour lined the rugby field as his casket -- draped in an All Blacks flag - was driven off the ground in his uncle's Ford Explorer, a car he helped pick.

His uncle, Kerry Dowling, told Jack the truck was a "lemon" - "It's leaked more water this week than I have" - but nonetheless he would keep the vehicle as a reminder of the day the pair bought it and of his nephew.

Jack's eldest sister, Courtney, remembered her little brother with "that cheeky wee grin".

"We have always been able to pick you up and dust you off, but not this time," she said.

Family, friends and team-mates of Jack Martin form a guard of honour as his casket leaves a memorial service at the Eastern Rugby Club grounds in Waikouaiti. Photo / Gerard O'Brien
Family, friends and team-mates of Jack Martin form a guard of honour as his casket leaves a memorial service at the Eastern Rugby Club grounds in Waikouaiti. Photo / Gerard O'Brien

"You were never just mum's little baby - you were all of our's." She broke into tears as she recalled what might have been: "I always thought that I would see you on TV with a black jersey and the number nine on the back.

"You will remain in my heart forever and always."

Kate, his other sister, said she shared a special bond with Jack and both suffered allergies, eczema and asthma.

"I always had to try the food first to see if we could eat it and then you were straight in," she said.

"You trusted me so much and I trusted you. I'm going to miss you little bro. Rest easy," she said.

His brother Bob admitted Jack's talents had made him jealous at times, but he was proud of his "best friend".

"We always had each other's back and that's the great thing between two brothers," he said.

"I know you will be looking down on me. You have still got my back until we see each other again."

The sobs of those in attendance were occasionally broken by bursts of laughter as Mr Martin recalled memories of his cheeky and mischievous "Jumping Jack Flash".

"There is no way we can express our utter disbelief," Mr Martin said.

"There are no words to tell you how broken our family is now.

"There is no comfort that can be offered to fill the void left in our hearts.

"I probably never told you that I loved you enough, I'm just not cut out that way and for that I'm truly sorry. But I'm pretty damn sure you know that I loved you as I love your mother, brother and sisters.

"We can never express how empty we feel now as an incomplete family, ripped apart, and how bad we feel for you, our brilliant little man.

"You will be forever in our hearts, our brilliant boy, you will be loved forever."

- Otago Daily Times

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