Sweethearts dreams shattered by bombs
Matthew Bolwerk

They fell madly in love on a trip to Bali when they were teenagers.

This was why, in 2002, high-school friends turned sweethearts Laura Shuttleworth and Matthew Bolwerk travelled back to that island paradise, to get married in the place where their romance began, when they were both 18-years-old.

It was for no lack of love that they did not make it to the altar.

Five days before their wedding, the Safety Bay couple were celebrating in the Sari Club in Kuta with a few friends, when the bomb went off.

Mr Bolwerk, a 27-year-old mechanic who had wanted to try for a baby on his honeymoon, was killed in the blast.

Almost 10 years on from the Bali bombings, Ms Shuttleworth remembered the caring and adventurous man who would have been her husband, and her escape from the ruins of the Sari club.

“He was a great guy, he was honest and caring, and he liked to have fun,” Ms Shuttleworth said yesterday.

Then 27, Ms Shuttleworth was standing with her brother and two friends in the Sari club when the night exploded on October 12, 2002.

The next thing she knew she was being pinned by a piece of roofing.

“I remember getting out from under the roof and seeing the fire and feeling the fire,” she said. “I thought I was gone.”

She does not know what would have happened if a couple of young men had not rushed to her aid.

“They helped me up over this wall,” she said. “I sort of had to jump across an alleyway onto another roof that had no tiles or anything on it.”

In shock, suffering cuts and bruises, Ms Shuttleworth said she was part of a group of people that escaped the fires by running across a series of rooftops.

Eventually she made it down to the beach. Her brother and her mates were all OK. But her fiancé was still missing.

Back in Australia, Mr Bolwerk’s mother Pam received a phone call from a friend in the early hours on Sunday morning, warning her there had been an explosion in Bali.

She said her son and Ms Shuttleworth had delayed their wedding, to give her and the family “something to look forward to,” after her other son Nick committed suicide in 2000.

Now 70, tears flowed down her face yesterday, when she remembered that terrible moment on the phone when she knew she’d lost her other boy.

“I started to shake uncontrollably,” she said. “I knew he wasn’t coming back. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew.”

“Matt was so warm and generous and funny,” Ms Bolwerk said “He never hurt anybody.”

As the days rolled on, and Mr Bolwerk had still not been found, Ms Shuttleworth said she accepted the man she loved was gone.

“I didn’t want to come home until we found Matt,” she said. “But I pretty much knew. Even if he was really, really hurt, he would have found me or found a way to notify me. He was that sort of guy.”

Mrs Bolwerk agreed.

“He would have found Laura wherever she was, straight away,” she said.

But Ms Shuttleworth held out some small hope. At the time it was all she had.

“I didn’t want to come home until we found Matt,” she said. “My brother convinced me to get on the plane. I probably did need to see a doctor at the time but I wouldn’t let anyone touch me. He thought I’d shattered my cheekbone because my face was all black; my teeth were all loose.”

Ms Shuttleworth arrived back in Perth on October 16. It was the day before the wedding was supposed to have taken place.

“He was my future,” she said. “It had all been stripped away in one moment.

“I lost a couple of months of my life after that. I was fairly badly in shock.”

Now 37, Ms Shuttleworth lives in Golden Bay with her three children and partner Jason. He had been a childhood friend to both her and Mr Bolwerk.

The couple have remained close with Mr Bolwerk’s mother Pam.

As a son, a lover, or a friend, they remembered and missed Mr Bolwerk, together.

“Matt was my world and he was everything to me,” Ms Shuttleworth said. “I’ll never forget him.”

The West Australian

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