‘She deserves so much more’: Memorial planned for teen
THE grieving family and friends of popular Cairns teenager Madison Tam will finally have the chance to give her a "fitting" send-off after COVID restrictions robbed them of a proper funeral following her tragic waterhole death.
Only 20 people were able to attend the original service for the 18-year-old former St Mary's Catholic College student last year after she disappeared while swimming at the Devils Pool section of the Babinda Boulders on April 6.
Her body was found four days later following a large-scale and difficult search.
A close friend of the tight-knit Tam family has spoken out on their behalf for the first time as they plan a "more fitting send-off" for Madison, who was well-known in the community, particularly for her hard work with the Scouts.
Family friend Jo Grady, who said she counted Madison as another daughter and had watched her grow up, said the family and her huge network of friends wanted a chance to remember her.
She said a memorial was being planned for May 8, likely on sunset at one of the beaches.
"She was a beautiful soul taken far too soon and had a world of opportunity in front of her," Mrs Grady said.
"Her future was definitely shining bright.
"We want to give her a more fitting send-off, she deserves so much more.
"It's hard with COVID, you don't get to grieve the same way and have that goodbye."
Madison had been a dedicated member and cofounder of the Mulgrave Venturers, becoming the first person from that group to receive the Queens Scout Award - a title which required hundreds of hours of scouting and community work.
Her family, including parents Jessa and Trevor and younger sister Rhianna, 14, set up the Madison Tam Memorial Benefit just weeks after her death - a legacy to raise funds for the Scouts, to assist with buying equipment or scholarships.
Mrs Grady said they continued to urge people to donate to help the organisation which had meant so much to Madison.
She said the teen had been studying business and marketing at CQUniversity, but believed she was planning a career with the Scouts after graduating.
"She had this passion for going back and working hard and she had all these dreams and they were just cut short," she said.
"The things she taught her friends, (she would say) "let's go and do that for the community".
"I always thought: "you're a good kid, you don't do anything wrong and you don't push the envelope".
Mrs Grady said the family also wanted to express how safety conscious Madison was around water - she knew CPR and first aid and helped fundraise for water safety equipment for the Scouts - and described her death as a "tragic accident".
The Devil's Pool area has claimed at least 17 lives in 60 years.
To donate to the MTMB go to www.fnqscouts.org.au/mtmb/
Originally published as 'She deserves so much more': Proper farewell planned for teen