Mount teenager farewelled in emotional tribute

The Mount Social Club, where Braidon works, hosted friends and whanau. File Image.

Traffic stopped in downtown Mount Maunganui yesterday as a procession of cars accompanied local teenager Braidon Townsley on one last trip to his favourite places before he was laid to rest.

Braidon, 17, died a week ago in the early hours of Monday, March 7, when the car he was driving hit a power pole on Maunganui Road.

Police were called to the crash just after 2am, but Braidon died at the scene.

His mother, Cattalina Townsley, 33, described her eldest son as “a beautiful person and an amazing big brother” to his two younger siblings, Storm, 7, and Psalms, 2.

Before Monday’s tangi, Cattalina put a note out to the local community, where Braidon and his family are well known, inviting people to join the procession of vehicles.

A chain of cars sounded their horns after setting off from Braidon’s home in Pāpāmoa, while some were decorated with messages in bright pink writing.

The first stop was Papa Mo’s restaurant at Golden Sands, where Braidon got his first job in hospitality.

They carried on to the skateboarding park on Maunganui Road, next to the location of the former Fire and No 8 restaurants, where the hospitality apprentice also worked.

The motorcade then went on to visit Pilot Bay at the base of Mauao, one of Braidon’s favourite places in the region.

The line of cars stopped outside Mount Social Club on Maunganui Road, where Braidon had worked full time since January.

Managers and staff, dressed in black, stood outside while the cars circled the area three times.

Tom Collins, operating partner of Mount Social Club, says the club hosted 100 of Braidon’s whānau and friends for food and drinks after his private cremation.

He says the staff are still shocked and devastated, especially bar manager Rahul Sharma, who had been Braidon’s mentor.

Both Tom and Rahul helped to carry Braidon’s coffin.

“Seeing the cars was a very emotional moment for us all,” says Tom. “It has been such a shock, but today it brought it home that we have lost him and we are devastated.”

Tom says Braidon was a natural for the hospitality industry, and had a great career ahead of him.

“He was turning 18 next month and had saved up to go to Australia to work there. He was a boy following his dreams.

“He was such a talented all-rounder who always strived to learn more about the business. He had his heart set on a career in hospitality, and he was great at it because of his personality.

“He got on with people so well. He was loved by the staff and guests alike. It’s still sinking in that he’s not going to come through the door again with one of his cheeky grins.”

Braidon’s mother Cattalina grew up in Arataki, Mount Maunganui, and called Braidon “my rock, our beautiful boy, a beautiful soul, my motivation for everything”.

Cattalina’s best friend, Shannon Finey, set up a Givealittle page to help support the whānau. So far more than $12,000 has been raised.

 - Stuff

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