Hundreds of friends and family gathered at Edlen Chapel on Wednesday afternoon to witness the last ride of Gunnedah man Stuart Little, who lost his battle with cancer a week ago.
The twenty-two-year-old was given a guard of honour from the chapel to the graveside in a V8 ute, a testament to his passion for “petrol and burnt rubber”.
Touches of purple were evident in the crowd, with many wearing Stuart’s favourite colour in memory. Stalks of lavender were laid on the coffin, and purple balloons were released, following the flight of a dove.
Richard Brooks of Lightfoot Funerals delivered a eulogy on behalf of Stuart’s mother, Jo-Ann.
Stuart was born on August 18, 1994, after a little encouragement; a family trait, according to his mother.
"Right away, he set the tone for his childhood,” Mr Brooks said.
“He was loud, so very loud. He cried loud, he played loud. His volume control was stuck on maximum and still he managed to increase it."
He had three siblings, Scott, Lauren and Madilyn. Stuart’s father, Jason, was tragically lost when Stuart was four.
When the family moved to Emerald Hill in 2009, Stuart didn’t waste time in getting to know the neighbours, quickly making friends.
“The more mobile he got, the more families were pulled into his orbit, and the better he was fed,” Mr Brooks said.
Stuart was industrious in his young life, trying his hand as a jackaroo for the Rowarth family, and barista at McDonald’s, before starting an auto mechanic apprenticeship at Lawrence’s Garage and Brake Service, where he was taken under the wing of the Knight family.
“Five years later ... he emerged with a shed full of tools and a direction in life,” Mr Brooks said.
Stuart’s last place of employment was Peel Valley Machinery.
Willing to give most things a go, the young man played darts, bowls and golf, but they paled compared to his passion for dirt bikes and drag racing.
“Look out for the flattened reflectors on Quia Road,” Mr Brooks said.
One of Stuart’s long-time friends, Tink Taylor, also shared memories from the eight years she knew him.
"Stuey was renowned for his infectious smile, warm heart, one liners and his uncanny ability to party,” Tink said.
"Stuey was the embodiment of the phrase - here for a good time, not a long time.
"As sick as he was, he never lost his love for a good time.
“One of the images of Stu that will never leave me is him perched up in a hospital chair, Canadian Club in one hand and a sausage sandwich in another, Soulja Boy sunglasses on and his big cheesy grin."
Tink said despite his three-year battle with cancer, “he never complained or had a chip on his shoulder, and never lost his ability to smile".
“He never let his illness define him,” she said.
"He was selfless, he was strong and he was so, so incredibly brave.
“He will always live on in our memories and in our hearts.”