Chris Rees remembered at moving service

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Liam CroyAlbany Advertiser
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Bob Rees with daughters Katrina Rees and Alex Wells.
Camera IconBob Rees with daughters Katrina Rees and Alex Wells. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Alex Wells used to roll her eyes and cringe inside when someone told her she looked just like her mother.

“Who wants to hear that as a teenager?” Ms Wells said at a moving service in honour of her mother on Saturday.

The truth is there is no one she would rather remind people of.

“I’d be proud to resemble my mum in any way, but she was truly one of a kind,” she said.

“She was a Bonnie to Dad’s Clyde. She was a little bit country and a little bit rock‘n’roll.

“She was our Mother Goose and our Grannysaurus. She was our mum and I miss her so much ... I’ll love her for ever.”

Chris Rees's daughter Alex Wells at the memorial service held for her mother.
Camera IconChris Rees's daughter Alex Wells at the memorial service held for her mother. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Ms Wells was one of many people moved to tears at Middleton Beach as friends and family gathered to commemorate the life of Albany woman Chris Rees, 72.

Mrs Rees died in July after the motorcycle she was riding with her husband Bob was struck by a car on a holiday in a remote part of Malawi.

Her husband was still holding her hand when she succumbed to her injuries about halfway along the bumpy five-hour journey to Mzuzu Hospital.

He said they spent those precious final moments “telling each other how much they loved each other”.

Bob and Chris Rees on their old BMW motorcycles.
Camera IconBob and Chris Rees on their old BMW motorcycles.

On Saturday, outside Albany Surf Life Saving Club, Mr Rees told the crowd how he first met Chris 47 years ago at Tropicana Nightclub on York Street.

He spoke about his wife’s friend Raelene Blake and how the pair had gone walking every morning for decades, exercising “both their bodies and jaws”.

And he shared news of the community’s fundraising efforts, which would support local medical organisations in Africa.

The couple’s other daughter, Katrina Rees, shared a quote she came across in Johannesburg, after she flew to South Africa to be with her father in the wake of the crash.

Vikki Thorn from The Waifs performed at the service.
Camera IconVikki Thorn from The Waifs performed at the service. Credit: Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

“The world needs strong women, women who will lift and build others, who will love and be loved,” she said.

“Women who will live bravely, both tender and fierce. Women of indomitable will.”

She said those words summed up her mother — a “tough lady with a heart of gold”.

“Mum was a courageous woman and lived her life with love and determination,” Katrina said.

“Mum was always the calm one in a crisis and she was calm until her last goodbye.

Hundreds gathered to pay tribute to Chris Rees at a memorial service held at the Albany Surf Life Saving Club.
Camera IconHundreds gathered to pay tribute to Chris Rees at a memorial service held at the Albany Surf Life Saving Club. Credit: Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

A procession of people paid tribute to Chris, including her granddaughter Hannah Wells, former Southern Regional Medical Group colleague Dr David Mildenhall, Albany Vintage and Classic Motorcycle Club’s Chester Powell, and her fellow Granny Grommets.

Vikki Thorn, from The Waifs, played at the service, teaming up with Chris’ nephew Deon Utber for a stirring rendition of one of the couple’s favourite songs, Joy of My Life.

Once the formalities had ended, Mr Rees opened up about his physical and mental rehabilitation.

He said he was not sure if he would walk again, but he would live his life to the fullest regardless.

Bob Rees pays tribute to his wife at her memorial service.
Camera IconBob Rees pays tribute to his wife at her memorial service. Credit: Albany Advertiser

He said had to be strong for his family, and he could not spend any time dealing in anger or ‘what-ifs’.

“Yeah, I go downhill. I cry every day. But you’ve just got to fight on,” Mr Rees said.

“I can feel her sort of saying, ‘if you’re a bit down, get up and get on with it’. I’ll never, ever forget her.

“I’ll think about her every day.”

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