TRAGEDY: Dad’s ‘little mate’ farewelled alongside mum
HUNDREDS of mourners gathered to celebrate the lives of Juanita Bendel and Ava Cole at Atherton today.
The mother and her 10-year-old daughter, who were electrocuted in a tragic accident at Tumoulin on New Year's Eve, were farewelled together at the Mountain View Chapel at Guilfoyle's Tablelands Crematorium.
In a eulogy written by Juanita's parents Ray and Rosanne Bendel, the family thanked all those who had shown them love and support since the tragic deaths of their daughter and young grandchild.
"Juanita was generous, loving and would do anything for anyone," the Bendels wrote.
"She will always be remembered as a treasured daughter, sister, partner and mother and a trusting and loyal friend to all."
Juanita was born at Innisfail Hospital in 1979 and grew up on the family farm at East Palmerston.
The family grew bananas and bred Brahman cattle.
"She developed a love for Brahman cattle at that time," Mr and Mrs Bendel recalled.
"By the age of four she could steer a tractor and ride a banana trailer.
"We used to say that by the time she became useful, she had to start school."
She attended East Palmerston State School and then, in 1992, Innisfail State High School.
In her senior year, Juanita met Mitch Cole. Mitch's family ran the Wallace Vale Droughtmaster Stud at Tully.
They shared a passion for beef cattle and one day 23 years ago, Mitch telephoned for Juanita at her home, somewhat surprising her father Ray when he answered.
"Juanita considered the day of that phone call to be their anniversary," Mr and Mrs Bendel wrote.
The couple moved to Clermont for a while and returned to Far North Queensland in 2002 and made their new home on their farm in Tumoulin.
This was "their sanctuary and their world".
In 2008, their first child was born at Innisfail Hospital, daughter Ava, and it was love at first sight.
"When Ava went to school at St Teresa's Primary School in Ravenshoe, Juanita became part of the school community," the Bendels eulogised.
In the six years before their next child was born, mum and daughter had forged a special bond.
"She was the apple of her eye," the Bendels said.
Ava, following in her mother's footsteps, developed a love for cattle and learned to show and to judge cattle.
"She was dad's little mate and 'right-hand man' and, if you believed Ava, she did it all.
Ava lost her status as an only child when Hannah was born in 2014. The youngest daughters, Olivia, was born in 2016.
"It occurred to Mitch that he was surrounded by females," they said.
On December 13, Juanita came good on a promise to Ava upon turning 10. She took her to a tattoo shop in Atherton - not to get a tattoo, but to get her ears pierced.
School friends of both Juanita and Ava, through tears, shared their memories, many of them humorous, after the eulogy was read.
JUANITA AND AVA APPEAL
The fundraising account for the Cole-Bendel family:
Juanita and Ava Appeal
BSB 633 000
Account number 164 628 042
Donations are not tax deductible.
Use your name as a reference. If you require a receipt, email email@example.com and one will be issued to you.
Cheques are acceptable and can be posted to Bendigo Bank, Grigg St, Ravenshoe, Qld, 4888.