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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Anna Falkenmire

'Our hearts are broken': community honours bus crash victims

THE SHATTERED communities of the Hunter have gathered to share in their grief and honour the "beautiful 10" killed in the Greta bus tragedy.

Loved ones of those lost told of their heartbreak since the coach carrying wedding guests rolled on Wine Country Drive on the night of June 11.

Hundreds of people came together in Singleton on Saturday for a public memorial to pay tribute to those that died, dozens of survivors, their families, and everyone involved in the emergency response.

Zachary Bray sadly died in the crash and his mother Jacqui Varasdi told the crowd that each one of those lost would live on in their hearts and memories forever.

"I hope, like my family, you find comfort that they are all together," she said.

NSW Premier Chris Minns at the public memorial for the Hunter Valley bus tragedy on Saturday. Picture by Marina Neil
NSW Premier Chris Minns leaves a floral tribute at the Hunter Valley bus tragedy public memorial. Picture by Premiers Department
Family, friends and community members gathered to remember those lost in the crash and the survivors. Picture by Marina Neil
The crash on June 11 claimed the lives of 10 wedding guests. Picture by Marina Neil
NSW Premier Chris Minns with the wedding couple Madeleine Edsell and Mitchell Gaffney. Picture by Marina Neil
Family members lit candles for those who tragically died. Picture by Marina Neil
Emergency services procession involving police, firefighters, ambulance workers and the State Emergency Service. Picture by Marina Neil
Loved ones pay tribute. Picture by Marina Neil
Emergency service workers at the memorial. Picture by Premiers Department

Mother and daughter Nadene and Kyah McBride had their lives cut short, and sister and aunt Helen Arthur said her family's devastation was shared.

"Our hearts are broken," she said.

"The grief we feel is not ours alone.

"I see it as a ripple on a pond, affecting all that it touches."

Kyah's partner Kane Symons was a "free spirit" who could "light up a room instantly", his father Steven said.

"We loved him so much," he said.

"It rips our heart out everyday that we don't have the opportunity to see him develop his full potential."

Many of the victims were from the Hunter Valley community, and involved in the Singleton Roosters AFL club.

Roosterettes' team captain Tori Cowburn was remembered for her kind and caring heart.

"Your zest for life, your love for family, your love for nature too, are all the things that made an amazing girl like you," mother Kay Walsh said.

"With every passing moment, every minute of every day, the love I have for you my darling girl in my heart will forever stay."

Singleton doctor Rebecca Mullen was "great at telling people what to do", her family said.

A final piece of advice from her was read: "It's going to be okay, and you're going to be okay ... you will do it all for me, and I'll be with you every step of the way."

Tributes were read from family members of Angus Craig and Darcy Bulman, and a candle was lit for each of the 10, including husband and wife Andrew and Lynan Scott.

Loved ones thanked emergency workers and the first people at the scene for their commitment to trying to save lives, and treat those that had passed with dignity, in the face of unimaginable tragedy.

Emergency service workers at the memorial. Picture by Marina Neil

They also thanked the hospital staff, those that supported them in the aftermath of the crash and beyond, and the community for being the light in their darkest hours.

"We thank you sincerely for taking care of our loved ones in such difficult circumstances," Ms Bulman's father Warren said.

Representatives from NSW Police, NSW Ambulance, the NSW State Emergency Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, and the NSW Rural Fire Service attended the memorial.

Premier Chris Minns told the emotional crowd that people right across the state and country had been touched by the crash.

"The tragedy took the lives of mums and dads, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, lifelong mates and also newly minted friends," he said.

"In those dark hours, this community came together and did everything it could to save lives."

Casey Donovan and Travis Collins were backed by piano in a heartwrenching performance of "True Colours" at the service.

A free communal barbecue, in partnership with Rotary, was held after the memorial at the showground and members of the public laid gum leaves as a tribute.

Pictures of those who lost their lives were placed on a table of floral tributes and candles at the front of the service.

Visit to watch the full livestream of the public memorial.

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