Fallen Coast officer to be honoured on Everest
THE flag of a fallen police officer will be flown half a world away on Mt Everest, honouring a "tenacious" policewoman taken far too soon.
In May last year, the Queensland Police Service fraternity and Sunshine Coast community was brought to its knees with the loss of Detective Senior Constable Kelly Mason to cancer.
She was just 33.
Her widower Josh, also a detective, was forced to soldier on without the "love of his life".
In April, Kelly's name will be carried by a fellow officer - Roxanne Balke - who will trek to Everest base camp to raise funds for medical research.
Det Mason was originally approached by the Cherish Women's Cancer Foundation but said the trek would cause too much pain.
He said it was appropriate that a woman in blue was taking up the mantle.
"That certainly wasn't lost on me. Police are very fortunate to have such a great support network, and ever since has been amazing," he said.
"Not just my colleagues either, the higher ups through to the commissioner. There has always been someone to turn to.
"And I've needed it. It's been so hard."
When asked, he struggled to put in words how much his beloved meant to him, but his silence spoke volumes.
"We met at detective training and once it was on, there was no turning back," he said with a smile.
"She was amazing. Truly one of the greatest humans I've ever met.
"Everything she did was done towards other people. I think she'd be pretty chuffed seeing this money go to someone else."
He praised the police force's rare ability to "come together" in crisis times like few other professions.
Ms Balke, an officer of more than 20 years, likened it to a family.
While she never worked with Kelly and never met her, she said duty called her to honour Kelly.
"In this job you spend more time with colleagues than your own family; that bond is incredible," she said.
"So when I was approached I said, 'yes', straight away.
"From speaking to Josh, I could tell what a great man he was. Someone held in really high regard.
"So to be able to do this for him and for the foundation, it's a privilege."
Ms Balke is well on the way to having enough raised to complete the trek but needs crowd-funded assistance which can be found through Cherish's website.
Last year a fundraiser at Alex Surf Club raised $12,500 in Kelly's name initially, from which $5000 will go towards the Everest trek.
Det Mason wished to express his gratitude to the whole police force but in particular detectives Nick Patterson and Tim Harris for their help.
"The fundraiser made $12,000 in one night. It was unbelievable."