Family and friends of the late Hayden Atkinson-Thring have spoken to the Courier about the 20-year-old Cobram man following his death last week.RIAHN SMITH January 9, 2014 4:00am
‘‘I can’t believe he’s gone. It’s your absolute worst nightmare for your kids to go before you.’’
These are the words of grieving parent Steven Thring, whose only son, Hayden Atkinson-Thring, 20, died last week in a violent altercation outside a Cobram service station.
‘‘He’d only been home just over a week — you worry about kids in the city, like Wollongong, but when they come home, you think they’re safe,’’ Mr Thring said.
‘‘We’re so proud of him, of what he’s done, how he’d grown up so quickly.
‘‘He didn’t have an enemy in the world, he was just a great kid and just so loving.’’
Mr Thring said his son’s death would be felt particularly hard by his sister Kara-Lee and girlfriend Kelli Berdini.
‘‘They were the closest brother and sister you’d ever get,’’ he said.
‘‘He liked a good joke and a laugh, and especially being with Kelli.
‘‘They actually spoke about getting married and he was just so looking forward to travelling with her. It’s hurt us all so much but Kelli found her soul mate and now he’s gone.’’
Friend James Brewster said losing his mate was like losing a brother.
The friends were two of a group of about 10 young men who have created a makeshift family for themselves.
‘‘It sounds cliched but he loved life, he really did,’’ Mr Brewster said.
‘‘He was a real country boy who loved fishing, camping, he was always the one who got us up to do something.
‘‘He was just always there, we’ve grown up together, and he should be growing up with us.’’
Tobias Townley and Mr Atkinson-Thring had been friends for about six years, since Mr Townley moved back to Cobram from Queensland as a teenager.
‘‘The day I met him was the day I moved back and we’ve been best friends ever since. He was more than a best friend, he was a brother,’’ Mr Townley said.
‘‘He was just confident in everything he did. He’d only just got home and was so happy. You could feel his happiness, he was so excited about his plans with Kelli.
‘‘He was very bubbly. Whenever I was down and upset, even if he had his own problems, you could hang with him for 10 minutes and everything went out the window.
‘‘He has left the biggest mark on my life. I felt more complete when I was with him.’’
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