Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 04/12/2001, pg. 3

THE beating of “Ducky” Duckett’s favourite African drums were a sign to grieving colleagues yesterday that the lives of three Mental Health Service staff killed last Tuesday would be a continuing influence on their workmates.

About 600 mourners, still shocked by the sudden loss of life, wept and sobbed deeply at a memorial gathering to help ease the pain of the horrific air crash in Toowoomba.

The Mental Health team was on its way to a regular clinic in Goondiwindi when the plane appeared to lose power within seconds of takeoff and crashed, exploding on impact.

Those killed were psychiatrist Dr Allen Hughes, 35, from Britain; psychologist Dr Alan Duckett, 45, from South Australia and principal house officer, psychiatry, Katharine Thompson, 25, from Canada.

The pilot, also killed, was Bruce Johnson, 28, from Emerald.

With her voice quavering with emotion, Toowoomba Health Service district manager Karen Roach promised to support her staff and thanked emergency service workers and Queensland Health staff state-wide for their condolences.

Eastland Air operations manager Rob Chilcott said no words could alleviate the pain of losing a loved one or a friend, especially so suddenly and unexpectedly.

Colleagues remembered Allen Hughes’s Welsh dry wit, his liking for parties and his excitement at the imminent birth of his and wife Vanessa’s first child.

Katharine Thompson was remembered for her compassionate care for patients, colleagues, friends and her beloved dogs, her huge grin and mass of curly hair.

Alan “Ducky” Duckett was a big man, with a big heart and boundless energy for going the extra mile and a passion for drumming.

Queensland Health director general Dr Robert Stable said a plaque would be placed on the newly-built Mental Health Building at Toowoomba Base Hospital commemorating the three workers.

The funeral for Bruce Johnson will be in Emerald at 10am today.

Katherine Thompson’s funeral will be at St Theresa’s Catholic Church tomorrow at 2pm.

Alan Duckett’s funeral will be on Thursday at 1pm at South St, Toowoomba and Allen Hughes will be farewelled on Friday at St Vincent’s Hospital Chapel at 1pm.

Copyright 2001 / Courier Mail