FAREWELL LINDSAY: Beloved man bled orange
A SEA of orange and blue uniforms filled St Andrew's Anglican Church in Lismore on Wednesday as the Northern Rivers emergency services community paid their respects to State Emergency Services stalwart Lindsay Matterson.
The pews were filled to standing room with members of the Lismore City SES, representatives from all levels of the Richmond Police District, Rural Fire Service, Fire & Rescue NSW, local government as well as the community.
SES Northern Rivers chaplain and unit member Paul Von Bratt conducted the service.
"Lindsay was a great man who served the local SES for 47 years," he said. "Lindsay was not a man of any professed faith, however, he lived his life in a way many faiths promote and aspire to, he was a great man."
Mr Von Bratt said Mr Matterson was an inspiration in his twin spheres of family and emergency services.
"Thank you Ruth for sharing him with us," he said.
"At the conclusion of the service we will form a guard of honour...three of Linday's long standing mates John, Tom and Ed will carry Lindsay's photo, medals and service helmet into the hall."
Mr Von Bratt said summing up such a special man in so short a time was a challenge.
"How can one possibly cram 84 years of living, loving and serving into a couple of minutes?"
He said Mr Matterson was also responsible for building up the Lismore SES Unit's new headquarters through his relentless campaigning and grew the unit's membership from six members to its current 96.
"In the old days the unit was in the rowing club which meant of course they had to regularly evacuate itself in a flood before helping the community," he said.
"So he lobbied all levels of government to establish a first-class facility we have which cost well over $1 million, thank you Lindsay."
His daughter Cheryl spoke movingly of a man she said was more than a loving husband and a cherished father.
"He was a much loved grandfather and great-grandfather," she said.
"He was an adventurer, storyteller, a teacher, inventor sportsperson, lifelong friend and our hero."
Lismore City Unit Controller John Ludlow said Mr Matterson was well respected in the Lismore community and within the NSW SES.
"He was a true gentleman and a dedicated volunteer who selflessly gave up his time for others," he said.
"He was forthright and his opinion was always respected and backed up by experience and knowledge."
Lismore City Unit deputy controller Amanda Vidler said Mr Matterson was exceptional in sharing his experience and mentoring newer SES members.
NSW SES Assistant Commissioner Scott Hankel spoke of Mr Matterson's forthright approach which he said will be sorely missed.
He spoke movingly of how Mr Matterson feared no-one, no matter how high their office, in his relentless quest to ensure the SES Unit had a headquarters which allowed them to do their important community work - and which did not require evacuation during a flood.
In 2008 he was awarded the Emergency Services Medal and he also held the National Medal (with three clasps), the 40 year NSW SES long service medal and a Commissioners Unit Citation for outstanding efforts during the March 2017 flood event.
Thomas George MP said his knowledge of floods was second to none.
Mr George said he provided a wealth of information which helped keep the Lismore community safe in many a storm, flood or severe weather event.
An honour guard was formed as a trio of Mr Matterson's colleagues carried his SES helmet, photo and medals from the church to the hall after the service.
Mr Matterson lost his fight with a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, two days short of his 62nd wedding anniversary on December 27, 2018.
A private funeral was held in keeping with his wishes.
He is survived by his wife Ruth, four children, 10 grandchildren and three great-children, brother and sister-in-law and mourned by his many friends and colleagues across the region and beyond.