Sad fam­ily farewell

Ava ‘lived for the cat­tle and farm­ing’

The Weekend Post - - Front Page - PETE MARTINELLI [email protected]

GEN­ER­OUS and lov­ing.

Fear­less and Dad’s lit­tle mate.

Trib­utes have flowed for Juanita Ben­del and her 10year-old daugh­ter Ava Cole, of Tu­moulin (right), who were elec­tro­cuted at their Erik­sen Rd prop­erty on New Year’s Eve.

Their deaths have sad- dened the Table­lands com­mu­nity which gath­ered at the Moun­tain View Chapel yes­ter­day to say good­bye.

AVA Cole has been re­mem­bered as a fear­less coun­try girl with an affin­ity for an­i­mals be­yond her 10 years.

Ava and her mother Juanita Ben­del died when they were elec­tro­cuted at their Raven­shoe fam­ily farm on New Year’s Eve.

Ad­vance Cairns CEO and cat­tle owner Nick Trompf had seen Ava at work at the Ma­landa Show, where she would be at her dad Mitch’s side.

“I have known her since she came up as a four year old,” Mr Trompf said.

“She and Mitch would have their cat­tle op­po­site ours at the Ma­landa Show.”

He said Ava was in her el­e­ment around the tow­er­ing an­i­mals.

“I have watched this young girl grow from be­ing not far out of nap­pies to be­ing to­tally con­fi­dent around live­stock,” he said.

“She lived for the cat­tle and farm­ing. She had a pas­sion for it. She was like a duck to wa­ter.”

Ava had made a name for her­self on the show cir­cuit.

“In the han­dling com­pe­ti­tions she’d be out there and won her age group this year,” Mr Trompf said.

“She would con­fi­dently han­dle a beast twenty to thirty times her weight. She al­ways looked the part and was an ab­so­lute pro­fes­sional in the show and had a for­mi­da­ble tal­ent.

“She was fear­less – but smart enough to know the dan­gers. She re­spected the cat­tle but at the same time was able to get the beast on to its feet and rolling over.

“She was a young cat­tle han­dler with a lot of tal­ent.”

Ava was at her dad’s side at the show and dur­ing the Ma­landa Show cat­tle camps held in May, where school stu­dents would be taught how to pre­pare the an­i­mals for show­time.

For­mer show ste­ward and Ma­reeba Shire coun­cil­lor An­thony Ball re­mains close with Mitch Cole.

“They are dead­set a typ­i­cal Aus­tralian coun­try fam­ily – they are hard work­ing, won­der­ful peo­ple,” Mr Ball said.

“Ava was just one of a kind. She was a very spe­cial kid.”

He said Ava was at home in the show ring with her cat­tle.

“She had show­man­ship and had a won­der­ful way with cat­tle,” Mr Ball said.

“She was just un­afraid to show these an­i­mals who was boss – she just had a way with them.

“She’d walk into the ring with her an­i­mal and as far as show­man­ship goes, she would com­mand the at­ten­tion of the judges as if to say, ‘Look at me, look at my an­i­mal’.

“She had a con­fi­dence that was amaz­ing for her age.”

It would not be un­usual to see Ava out with the cat­tle at night, tend­ing to them and com­fort­ing them.

Mr Ball said that at 10 years of age she had de­vel­oped an affin­ity for the an­i­mals that was the envy of stock­men decades her se­nior.

“She had a great abil­ity for such a young age – she cer­tainly was a great cat­tle per­son, just a nat­u­ral.”

A fundrais­ing ap­peal has been launched to raise money for the fam­ily of Ava Cole and Juanita Ben­del. Do­na­tions can be made at http:// www.juani­taan­davaap­

COUN­TRY GIRL: Ava Cole, at the age of seven, was the youngest ju­nior judge at the Ma­landa show.

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