Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Weekend Herald and Herald on Sunday.

OE dream turns to tragedy - 'She was my entire life'

Joe Perry and his girlfriend Maddy Rice. Photo / Facebook
Joe Perry and his girlfriend Maddy Rice. Photo / Facebook

A young Kiwi backpacker has told of his heartbreak after his "incredible" girlfriend was hit and killed by a car in front of him on a romantic Scottish island getaway.

Madison "Maddy" Rice, 21, from Queensland, died on Monday when a Vauxhall car ploughed into her on the Isle of Skye as she and her boyfriend Joe Perry hitchhiked home after a night out.

The pair had been enjoying a day off from the luxury Kinloch Lodge in Sleat where they had been living and working, when tragedy struck near the Sligachan Hotel about 1.15am.

Joe and Maddy, a beautician, had been friends for a number of years and had worked together at the Hog's Breath Cafe in Noosa.

Perry said he was devastated at the sudden loss.

"Maddy was pretty much my entire life," he told the Herald on Sunday.

"We never did anything apart. There was never a second that passed where I didn't wish she was by my side.

"She was an absolutely gorgeous bundle of happiness and her smile would turn even the worst of moods."

Cricket-mad Perry moved to Australia from Auckland with his family when he was a boy. He said he felt his life was complete when he met Maddy.

"I was lucky enough to be in the most perfect relationship with this incredible girl and we had so much more planned to come," he said.

"I couldn't ask for a more amazing person in my life.

"I loved Maddy more than words could describe and consider myself to be the luckiest person alive to be able to spend 24 hours around her.

"Nothing feels right at the moment, I really am struggling. I just need my other half back."

At the time of her death Maddy was living her dream travelling with her boyfriend, her parents said. She had moved to the UK from Australia and, after living in London, moved to Skye to work at the hotel.

Maddy Rice and Joe Perry. Photo / Facebook
Maddy Rice and Joe Perry. Photo / Facebook

Describing Maddy as "bright and bubbly", they said: "She would always be there for her friends and family whenever they needed her.

"She was driven and knew what she wanted and was going to do it.

"She was living her dream of travelling and working in the UK and Scotland and loving life."

Isabella Macdonald, director of Kinloch Lodge where Maddy worked as a receptionist, said everyone at the hotel was "devastated" at the tragic loss.

"She was devoted to her wonderful partner, Joe, and our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to him and her family."

Last week Maddy's family set up a crowdfunding page to raise the $20,000 needed to bring her home as she had no holiday insurance. In less than 24 hours 471 people had donated more than $27,000 to the cause.

Her stepfather Alix Welsh said the family was struggling to come to terms with the news of her death but appreciated the "overwhelming" assistance from Australia and overseas.

"The family are very grateful for the help and support from the community in Scotland that their son Joe has received during this time," he said.

"He is doing what he can for Maddy before heading home as soon as he can to be with his family in Noosa."

- Herald on Sunday

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