Farewell for popular snowboarder

DEBBIE JAMIESON
Last updated 05:00 24/02/2014
Hamish Bagley funeral
DEBBIE JAMIESON/Fairfax NZ

The stickered coffin of Hamish Bagley – complete with snowboard bindings for handles.

Hamish Bagley funeral
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Hamish Bagley

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About a month ago a 15-year-old sitting on the other side of the world was feeling glum and started a Facebook page - Bring Back Hamish Bagley - in the hope his Arrowtown-based mate would visit and brighten his world.

Hamish had that effect on people.

Last week the name was changed to RIP Hamish Bagley after the popular snowboarder died in a fiery car crash in the Lindis Pass - three days before his 18th birthday.

On Saturday more than 1000 people attended his funeral to remember a funny, talented, passionate, compassionate, cheeky young man whose humility and friendship had touched thousands around the world.

His father Roy said he taught Hamish to ski when he was two or three but it was when older sister Francesca decided to be a "cool skater chick" and bought a skateboard that his son discovered a new passion.

"Several skateboards later his talent was recognised by the local ski shop Alta and he became a sponsored rider," Mr Bagley said.

The manager of Alta than talked him into giving Hamish a go on a snowboard.

"Hamish took to it like a duck in water."

His instructors often spoke of his natural ability but he was also a hard worker. At the age of 12 he was named national age group champion and joined the national development squad with Sochi in his sights.

He spent five back-to-back winters training, culminating in his 10th place at the World Youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, in 2012.

Away from the competition he was remembered as a loving and humble family member and friend.

Adored by his older sisters Laura and Francesca, he specialised in winding them up but was "the piece of the puzzle that connected us all together - the baby that we all adored and loved", Francesca said.

"I can't believe how many lives you touched. To me you were just my goofy little brother."

Mr Bagley said he was comforted that Hamish had his precious pet dog Tommy, "your great wee mate", who perished with him in last Sunday's crash, to keep him company.

Hamish had taught Tommy how to ride a motor scooter, an electric wheel chair and various pieces of play ground equipment.

The pair were often seen on brother-in-law Chris's scooter riding around Arrowtown with Tommy perched on the handlebars.

Hamish was remembered as a young man who paid great respect to his Nelson-based grandparents, always calling to see them on his way home from overseas training. When he was named Snow Sports New Zealand emerging talent of the year he gave the keepsake trophy to his grandparents. On the weekend they returned it.

One family he lived with while training in the United States wrote of "the kindest man I have ever known". Another family wrote: "He brightened the whole room the moment he walked in."

His friends spoke of a loyal and fun friend who was always the best at whatever they were doing - including performing for a Weetbix commercial.

He was an optimist who would spend hours skating and, without trying, encouraged everyone to be the best they could.

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Alec Savery spoke of their shared joy of skateboarding and swimming in their jocks.

"Hamish said we could sleep when we died. I thought that summed him up."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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