IT was a celebration of a unique life, rather than a sad farewell.
Hundreds of family and friends from around the world gathered for a memorial on what would have been the 31st birthday of Dale Rehr, who died in a river in Brisbane, Australia, in January.
I truly believe if there were more people like Dale in the world there would be less conflict and hatredAlec Robotham
Dale, from Horndean, leapt from a bridge with a group of friends and, despite an extensive search by the emergency services, his body has never been found.
Yesterday at his favourite pub The Farmer Inn, in Catherington, there was music, poetry and fond and often hilarious memories of a young man who lived every day to the full.
Recalling many moments of mischief together, his lifelong best friend Alec Robotham, who grew up next door to the Rehr family, said Dale’s nickname in their household was the Tasmanian Devil due to his ‘supernatural amount of energy’.
Alec said: ‘He made me realise many times that life is too short to worry about what other people think of you.
‘I truly believe if there were more people like Dale in the world, there would be less conflict and hatred.
‘Dale never had time for those things. He was my hero.’
Dale’s younger brother Grant was joined by close friends Catherine Weaver, Guy Gyngell and Mark Robinson in a musical tribute to Dale, with songs from Radiohead, David Bowie and Neil Young.
And there was laughter as Mark detailed Dale’s exhaustive list of jobs, including frozen fish salesman, physiotherapist, beekeeper, dog walker and pet insurance salesman.
He taught himself to juggle fire, completed an Iron Man triathlon and even arrived at his school prom on a unicycle.
He added: ‘He had an unwavering desire to live life to the full and our lives are so much the richer for having had him in them.’
A family friend read a moving piece written by Dale’s parents Geoff and Ali, brother Grant and sister Lorna.
They spoke of his passion for travel and the environment. He spent time volunteering on Greenpeace’s anti-poaching vessel in New Zealand.
He had moved home recently to save up for a mortgage, but surprised his parents one day by coming home and exclaiming he was scrapping that plan and instead either buying a parachute or going travelling.
They said they were relieved it was the latter.
And despite many far-flung adventures he was in constant contact with his family, always calling and Skyping home and asking after his grandparents.
As well as his zest for life, friends told of his unflinching bravery.
He was working in a restaurant in Cape Town when armed gunmen burst in and peppered the place with bullets.
He saved the life of a colleague who had been shot.
His family said in their tribute: ‘Dale, you were open-hearted towards everyone you met, and saw the world as a beautiful and wonderful place, and strangers as friends you had not yet met.
‘Your joy and enthusiasm for absolutely everything you did is what we will miss the most’.
Loved ones tied messages to a Rowan tree which will be planted in memory of Dale in Catherington Lith.