Former Ulladulla resident and Australian Paralympic gold medallist Peter Trotter was farewelled at a memorial service in North Ryde last week after losing his battle with cancer aged 58 years.
Peter attended Ulladulla High School and spent his teenage years growing up in the local area while his father Neville was the headmaster at Ulladulla Public School.
He became a paraplegic from a spinal aneurysm which occurred when he dived into the Ulladulla sea pool at the age of 12 years and eventually went on to represent Australia in wheelchair racing.
At the 1984 Stoke Mandeville Paralympics, Peter won a gold medal in the 5,000 metre event, silver in the 1,500 metre event and bronze in the 800 metre race.
He was the first Australian to compete in the 1500 metre wheelchair race at the Paralympics.
Peter had a long and successful sporting career, setting world records over five distances ranging from 400 metres to 10,000 metres.
Peter believed his finest sporting achievement was representing Australia at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games where he finished fifth in the first-ever wheelchair demonstration event.
He was also an Australian record holder in the 42 kilometre wheelchair marathon.
Not only a participant, Peter was a significant contributor to the development of wheelchair sports in Australia, reflecting his belief that “disabled kids need heroes too”.
He was a former president of the NSW Wheelchair Sports Association and joint founder of the OZ Day 10K, Australia’s premier international wheelchair road race.
Peter was a board member of the Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee and was deputy mayor of the athletes’ village.
In 2000, he received the Australian Sports Medal from the then Prime Minister John Howard for his contribution to the disabled community, having also served on the National Committee on Sport and Recreation for Disabled People at the Australian Institute of Sport and the Olympic Committee’s Sport for All Commission.
Peter was successful off the field, working as the marketing director at Dematic for 34 years.
Long time friend and former fellow UHS student, Glenn Rowen described Peter as a “very capable, intelligent man who always looked on the bright side of life”.
“He participated in every activity, despite having been made a paraplegic at a young age,” he said.
“We became best of mates and spent our early teenage years growing up together.
“We laughed, competed and learned many life lessons together as well as shared many special moments.
“I remember Peter playing cricket and how he could get good bowling figures with his magical 'spin' despite not being able to take a run in to bowl the ball.
“He was a deft batsman as well and there was always someone there to run for him.”
Glenn said Peter faced many operations as a result of his tumour and more recently beat Hodgkins Lymphoma.
“Several months ago when diagnosed with lung and bladder cancer, Peter was still optimistic and was busy planning his annual mates' getaway for around Christmas,” he added.
“I found his strength amazing, in the face of adversity.
“He was recently diagnosed with brain tumours and unfortunately these led to a rapid deterioration in his health.
“I saw him 10 days before he passed away, and even then he was optimistic of going home - he never gave up.
“I know I learned a lot from knowing him and am very proud to call him a mate.
“He will be missed, but never forgotten.”
A memorial service was held for Peter at memorial service to be held at The Skyline Lounges, Northern Suburbs Crematorium in North Ryde.
The son of Neville and Catherine, Peter is survived by his wife Linda, daughter Meg and brothers Greg and Rob and their families.