Family remember son a year after Foveaux tragedy

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 03/01/2013
Barry Bethune and his partner Debbie McDougall remember Mr Bethune’s son Shaun on the first anniversary of his death.
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ

NOT FORGOTTEN: Barry Bethune and his partner Debbie McDougall remember Mr Bethune’s son Shaun on the first anniversary of his death.

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"The best way to honour and remember the life of someone you have loved and lost is to carry on living, that's what they would want. Even though that can be bloody hard."

Those are the words of Barry Bethune, who lost his son and his best friend in a tragic accident in Foveaux Strait one year ago.

Shaun Bethune, 23, and Lindsay Cullen, 59, died when the catamaran Extreme1 capsized off Ruapuke Island after being hit by a large wave.

The pair will be quietly remembered today by those left behind but a few cold beers will be raised at the Riverton Lodge Hotel later this month.

"The Lodge is a place where Shaun enjoyed spending a bit of time and we will have a meal with some of Lindsay's family," Mr Bethune said.

It was the simple things that triggered memories of his son Shaun and mate Lindsay, he said.

"I'll walk past a fence in a paddock that Shaun and I fixed together or when I'm diving off the point at Riverton Rocks where the last photos taken of Shaun are from, I think of them," Mr Bethune said.

Shaun and Mr Cullen succumbed to hypothermia on January 3 last year after more than three hours in the icy waters of Foveaux Strait.

Barry Bethune and two others, Carol Saxton and Denise Zonneveld, were rescued in Caroline Bay, off Ruapuke Island.

"Every summer will be tough . . . but you have to try look for something that brings enjoyment and meaning to your life," Mr Bethune said.

"You have the rest of your family and friends still with you. I think it would be doing the person you have lost an injustice to give up living."

Mr Bethune said he took inspiration from his son's rich and full life.

"When I find myself sitting around and procrastinating, I can imagine Shaun, who was into everything, telling me to get moving," he said.

Mr Bethune and his partner Debbie admitted Shaun was not perfect but said in the months before his death he was growing into his role of a father and turning his life around.

"He had been a bloody ratbag and we had some tough times as a family but he was coming good," they said.

Mr Bethune said that good was evident in his grandsons, who he saw regularly.

The boys' mother, Nicky, was also still very much a part of the family, he said.

While summer could be a time of great enjoyment, it could also be a time of tragedy, Mr Bethune said.

"You hear about other people suffering a loss at this time of year and your heart goes out to them," he said.

"The only advice I can give is appreciate every moment you have with your family and when they are gone, remember the positives they brought to your and other people's lives.

"Hang on to those special moments even when it hurts."

While his greatest wish was to be able to share a beer, play pool, or go fishing and diving with Shaun, his death made him realise what was important in life, Mr Bethune said.

" . . . we worry about things that are not that significant and forget about what really matters, family and friends," he said.

And Shaun had plenty of those.

"I have had a few calls from his mates in the past few days and I swear his grave always has the most flowers in the cemetery," Mr Bethune said.

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For anyone dealing with grief, help is available at: www.lifeline.co.nz, 0800 543 354 and www.beyondindigo.com

- © Fairfax NZ News

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