“As a national hero, do you think you could mow the lawn?” Brock’s mother Victoria Mathew asked him last weekend, trying to put some normality back into a nightmarish week.
“Sure mum,” was the reply.
If there could be an ‘ordinary’ end to an extraordinary week for Brock, that was it.
Brock’s act of bravery on Tuesday, April 7, made world-wide headlines and thrust he and his family into a not-so-welcome media spotlight.
Brock and his best mate Peter Edmonds, both 16 and both of Wollongbar, took advantage of a teachers’ stopwork meeting and time off school to head down to Ballina’s North Wall for a surf on their bodyboards.
Soon after 8am, a large shark attacked Peter, inflicting fatal injuries. Brock braved rough water and rain paddling to save his mate. Brock didn’t give a second thought to the danger he placed himself in.
Victoria said, recalling a subsequent discussion with Brock after the incident: “I didn’t understand the situation. I said to him, You knew that there was a shark there. How were you even still in the water?”
Brock’s reply? “Because it was Pete, Mum I had to get him out of there I didn’t care about anything else”
“He just loved his mate,” Victoria said.
Just like everyone else loved Peter.
“Peter was one of the nicest human beings God put on this Earth,” Victoria said.
“It’s so easy for people to say nice things about someone in this situation. But in this case it’s all true. He was just the most amazing kid, with a beautiful Christian heart that shone through daily in whatever he did. He was and still is a role model for all the kids that knew him.
“He was funny; nice, helpful and kind. He had a smile that lit up a room and held values that any parent would be proud of.
“If I asked Brock to do something, Pete would say ‘Brock …do what your mother tells you’.”
The immediate media attention after the incident reached such pressure that Victoria and Brock last week pleaded to be left alone. Brock didn’t consider himself a hero. However, Victoria spoke with www.farnorthcoaster.com.au after reading on-line blog comments questioning Brock’s heroics.
“The fact that he doesn’t want to be a hero makes him a hero to me,” Victoria said.
“He is an ordinary kid who did an extraordinary thing.”
Victoria said she initially was ‘cheesed off’ by the on-lone blog comments, but was dismissive of them by Sunday. “There’s always someone … ” she said.
Brock and his four siblings were raised by a single mum – a single mum who says she is very proud of her family unit.
“We’ve worked really hard as a family. It’s been a hard road,” Victoria said.
“For a child who was raised by a mum, he’s turned out to be one of the greatest men I know.”
Brock is shown here with his mother Victoria prior to his Year 10 Formal.
When asked if, given the amount of people who have surfed North Wall over many, many years without incident, that fate had delivered the cruellest of blows to Peter, Victoria said: “I believe that maybe God has better things in store for Peter.
“Peter’s family has a strong Christian faith, and they raised one of the sweetest people God put on this Earth.”
When asked how Brock was coping in the aftermath of such a horrifying experience, Victoria said: “He is a strong confident kid. And with the love and support of his family and friends and Peter’s family I’m sure he will get through all of this.
“Being Peter’s friend and having Peter in his life, he knows is a blessing that he will have with him always. Peter is in his heart.”
But Victoria said: “He has grown up overnight. He was faced with a very adult situation, and dealt with the situation as an adult.”
FOOTNOTE: Brock returned to the water last Sunday, just for a paddle in the surf with his and Peter’s best friend Jamie. The three of them surfed together a lot. They joined the Lennox Longboarders.