Family s pain of lost son
Family's pain of lost son

Corey Paltridge's smiling face radiates love and life through his mum and dad's home.

Every morning, dad Kevin says hello to the treasured photograph.

"I say 'good morning mate, how are you going'," Mr Paltridge said. He also has his son's image tattooed on his left arm, with the words "Corey, my mate, my son".

That's the bond they had, father and son. But it never had a chance to grow beyond a tragic night 10 years ago after Corey went to Bali with mates from Kingsley Football Club on an end of season trip.

Bali Remembered - Special full coverage tribute

Memories of the Lost - read the families' tributes

A mother and father's memories

Kingsley Football Club

And not even the love for life which Corey, aged just 20, could call on was able to save him from the terrorists' hatred.

Mr Paltridge, who ran a limousine business, drove the Kingsley boys to Perth Airport.

He got home from work early the next morning and his wife Pat, who had been dozing awaiting his return, heard on the radio news something about a bomb.

But it did not register until they got a phone call just before 3am from Norelle Quayle, whose husband Simon was the club coach.

A bomb had exploded at the Sari Club. Nine of the boys were missing. Corey was one of them.

Mr Paltridge can recall the moment clearly. "I still remember saying to Pat, 'Put the billy on, it's going to be a long night'," he said.

As word spread about the tragedy, their house filled with people.

"By 10am our kitchen was full of Corey's friends," Mrs Paltridge said. "Everybody was standing around in disbelief."

On the third day, they got the crushing news that Corey's body had been identified. The outpouring of support is something the couple will never forget.

There were calls, cards and hugs, even from people they did not know.

Mrs Paltridge said Corey's funeral was held the day before his 21st birthday.

"I went to the chemist to get something to settle me," she said. "The lady said, 'Tell me your son wasn't Corey'. I said 'yes'.

"She was crying behind the counter, she was hugging me. She said, 'He has the most beautiful face'.

"He was just one of these people, people just loved him. He was very affectionate, very warm, always laughing, just a really beautiful personality. He was so respected and so loved.

"He was very adventurous. He would do everything, go everywhere, always having a laugh and a good time.

"Sunday night he would come in and I would close those doors and think 'we have got through another weekend'.

"I just believed that one day, we would get a call to say that something had happened."

When an excited Corey prepared for the Bali trip, Mrs Paltridge said she had to make an effort to relax about her boy. "I thought 'I just have to let go'. For the first time, I didn't worry about him and then - that's what happens."

The loss rocked them. To cope, Mr Paltridge sought strength from other dads who had lost boys on the trip. And from the pub.

Eventually it got too much.

"It got to the stage where Pat said 'OK, Kev, that's enough'," Mr Paltridge said. "She said, 'We are moving, we have to get you away from the pub. You can either come or drink yourself to death'.

"I thought, this has got serious. I have to change my ways and thankfully I did."

Mrs Paltridge said that the very public nature of the anniversaries of the bombings had helped her get through.

"I think all those people loved him and I have all that love and support around me. That's good for me," she said.

And the love of, and love from, the football club remained strong.

Corey had saved money for a deposit on a house and the Paltridges decided to use it to sponsor an award for the player in the colts team "who plays Corey's way".

"He was never the best footballer in the side but always gave you 100 per cent," Mr Paltridge said.

Award recipients knew what it meant and walked a little prouder.

"The boys that came back, they are like my surrogate sons," Mr Paltridge said.

But he has one big regret. That he never told Corey before he left that he loved him.

"He knew it but I wish I had said it at the airport," Mr Paltridge said. "The only thing I said was, 'Be careful mate, look after yourself'. I wish I had said 'I love you mate'. Now, to the boys that have come back, I tell them as part of everyday life.

"But I keep asking why? Why did this happen? There probably is no answer."

Mrs Paltridge said they wanted to say a special thankyou to their families and friends who had been there for them from day one.

"You will never know how much it has meant to us," she said.

The West Australian

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