By Ian Neubauer
President of the Hunter Valley Vineyard Association, Trevor Drayton, was farewelled yesterday at a ceremony attended by more than 1,000 mourners at a Cessnock church.
Drayton, 52, was killed after a massive explosion rocked the main plant at Drayton’s Family Wines near the NSW town of Pokolbin last week. Also killed in the blast was contract welder Edgar Orgo, 57. Preliminary investigations by police and WorkCover NSW suggest the explosion was caused when ethanol fumes from a vat were ignited by Orgo’s welding torch. Assistant winemaker William Rikard-Bell, 27, was severely injured in the blast and remains in a stable condition at Sydney’s Concord hospital.
Eulogies were given at the funeral by Hunter MP and Defence Minster Joel Fitzgibbon, high profile winemaker and Drayton neighbour, Bruce Tyrell, and the deceased’s 16-year-old niece, Natalie Drayton.
Tyrell praised Drayton for his fun-loving antics and generous nature, including contributions he made to the local helicopter rescue service that carried Pikard-Bell to hospital last week.
“It was his style to quietly slip into the life of someone who needed assistance, provide that and quietly slip away… never seeking thanks or public recognition but being happy in just having improved someone else’s life,” the Daily Telegraph reported Tyrell as saying. “He treated everyone as equal and that was an attitude that earned him universal respect.”