Hundreds mourn Meerschaum Vale teen killed in bike crash

HUNDREDS of family and friends gathered on Saturday afternoon to mourn a young life cut tragically short.

Former Alstonville High student James Rigby touched all those he met with his eternal love of life and contagious optimism and enthusiasm.

The 18-year old Meerschaum Vale-raised man, having recently completed a successful first year on a scholarship at the Australian Defence Force Academy, died on December 7 following a motorbike accident on the Kings Highway between the South Coast and Canberra.

Yet amid the sorrow of his unexpected passing, it was the good nature and bountiful life of "Riggers", as he was affectionately known, that was celebrated and remembered.

The talkative young boy whose first words were "two eggs cooking fry pan" grew into an authentic leader, finding a second home in the defence force, recalled his mother Margaret Rigby.

"He accepted everyone, no exceptions, and by the way he treated them he made them feel equal. A Vietnamese camp cadet said James had made him feel more welcome than anyone else since his arrival in Australia," Mrs Rigby said.

He had many passions in his life: his friends, cricket and tennis, music, engineering and the army, but above all being "unashamedly" himself.

Steve Rigby recalled his son's love for life: "James had an unbelievable enthusiasm for everything ... he enjoyed as much pleasure in a day than most people would in a month."

"The written tributes have opened my eyes to how much he affected some people, and that he actually changed their lives. Hard to believe, from someone so young."

Cricket coach and friend Richard Redmayne recalled how the keen player would always volunteer to fill the ranks of opposing teams when they might be short a man, fairly doing his bit even at the expense of his team.

Always modest, he said he would have to work hard, to live up to a glowing description given of him in a reference.

"Everyone who knew James realised he had the potential to achieve anything, but today we can embrace all the things he was able to accomplish in a short and inspiring life," Mr Redmayne said.

The memorial service was MC'd by Alstonville High principal David Silcock, with more than 400 people in attendance.

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