See how far we've come

THE blue of the sky personified Suzannah Coad's favourite colour, and her sunny personality, while pure and white peace lilies were the flowers she loved the most.

Five years ago today, the 19-year-old crashed her car near a mine turn-off on the Gregory Highway north of Emerald, where a fresh blue roadside cross has been hung on a tree in memory of ‘Snuz'.

Finding her own peace of sorts in the intervening years since Suzannah finally succumbed to a brain injury suffered in the smash in May, 2007, her mother Sue Coad knows her daughter's legacy will live on through Friends of the Emerald Rural and Remote Communities and the permanent accommodation for young people with a disability soon to be built at Emerald's Nogoa Rise housing estate.

“This is a day where there's sadness… we'll probably never know what happened to Suzannah,” said Sue, thanking Joe Chapman for erecting the new Main Roads approved cross after ants had eaten away most of an original one put there by an anonymous mourner.

“We always go out to the tree and put some flowers there, and with the anniversary of her death we go to the cemetery – it's like you've got two anniversaries.

“I don't know if it's morbid or not, but some people think she did lose her life at that tree, because she was never the same after that.”

Suzannah would have been 23 now, and Mrs Coad said like any mother she had dreams of watching ‘Snuz', the childhood nickname given to Suzannah by her brother James, grow and explore life.

“She always wanted to travel overseas and her main aim was to have her own coffee shop… and she would have done it too.”

FFR&RC hope to turn the sod on the Nogoa Rise block donated by the Central Highlands Regional Council in May, and call for tenders to build the four one-bedroom units and carer's unit all under the one roof.

Funding for the project was granted by Disability Services through its Older Parent Carer Scheme.

“A replica of the initial building will be completed in stage two at a later date,” said Mrs Coad, who praised the work of FFR&RC president and CHRC deputy mayor Paul Bell in pursuing the funding and guiding the project.

“Without the FER&RC committee and the regional community help we would not be where we are today.

“What looked like being a 10-year plan has been reduced to three years.

“It is marvellous to think we've gotten this far doing something for Suzannah, in her memory.

“We did find it so hard having her in hospital and having no accommodation for her, and even though the people in this building are not in the same condition, they will be supervised and live independently on their own, which is good.

“The community too has been wonderful, and without them we wouldn't have gotten to where we are.

“It's not just Emerald, it's the whole region.”

FER&RC hopes to have 3D plans of the units available for viewing at an information desk at the Emerald Show, to give the community a visual concept of stage one.

Sunflower Queen entrant Laura Richards raised $9450 for FER&RC this year.

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