Glasses were raised to heal wounds on Wednesday last week after a tragic accident broke hearts across the City of Armadale.
The community was left reeling earlier this month when 78-year-old Graham Bayliss was knocked by a car near the Haynes shops whilst out on his evening walk with his dog, Shane. He sadly passed away from his injuries.
While most would not recognise the name, there would be few who wouldn’t have passed ‘the Dog Walker’ on one of his twice daily pilgrimages around the neighbourhood.
“He was a solitary sort of man, but people have told me that everyone from Kelmscott to Armadale to Haynes would have known of him. You could set your watch by him,” relative Tim Coppin said.
After hearing of the tragedy, Graham’s niece Louise Coppin and her husband Tim made their way from England to pay their respects and set his affairs in order.
They said they were blown away by the kindness and generosity of the community and decided to hold a celebration of life in a show of gratitude for the passers-by and concerned community members who rallied around Graham and his beloved dog.
“His neighbours, the people around here have all been so wonderful. It’s not every day that you come across such an incredible community,” they said.
“We needed some closure. And we wanted that for the community too. But he would have hated a funeral.”
The pair said they were grateful for the owner and staff at Haynes Bar and Grill who offered to host the event and put out a call to the public.
A steady stream of people came to share a drink and a story throughout the afternoon. And funds were raised to support the Animal Protection Society.
A small memorial has been placed in front of the historic arch on Eighth Rd where the accident occurred.
Ms Coppin said she feels no ill will for the driver of the vehicle.
“It was just one of those unfortunate things – it’s called an accident for a reason,” she said.
“Graham may have lost his life, but we don’t want her life destroyed by this as well.”
Though, she does believe “something needs to be done” about that particular intersection.
Ms Coppin said the connections she’s made with neighbours throughout her short trip leave her with a sense of confidence that Graham’s memory will be honoured.
There are plans to hold a community walk to scatter his ashes along his walking route at a later date.
“I could have taken him home to lay to rest beside his family. But he would have hated that. He lived here for 50 years and he vowed he’d never return to the UK. He needs to be in the place and with the community that he loved,” she said.
In good news, there are reports that Shane the dog has potentially found his new forever home.