From the ashes: restoring a memory

Many in the community were particularly saddened about the destruction of Geordie’s Kitchen, a memorial to honour ex-student Geordie Whitfield.

The aspiring chef died in January 2002 in a single car accident on his way home from work as an apprentice chef in Canberra.

At the time the community reportedly raised $22,000 and the NSW Education department provided a further $38,000 to build an industrial kitchen with stainless steel bench tops and state-of-the-art appliances.

The project was steered by Geordie's mother, Julie Perrin.

“It's a great shame," she said about losing the kitchen. The project had provided her with a sense of purpose at the time.

“You want to apply meaning to your son's death… He was very passionate about cooking, very dedicated to it.”

She was proud the school’s memorial award was given to a hospitality student based on passion and dedication, rather than academic prowess.

She said this was an opportunity for the school to build a new and larger kitchen to industrial standard and regain vocational accreditation.

“I suppose it's an opportunity ... now for it to be redone.

“That would be the positive way of looking at it."

Authorities have managed to recover a memorial plaque from the debris, which will be used in the new facility.

Police investigation

Sergeant Tom Lawless said police were following leads.

“All such incidents are investigated by police with the utmost scrutiny. Although it is only early in the investigation process, it's important that the community understands that such investigations are often complex and take some time to thoroughly complete,” he said.

“We are currently following up on leads, but also encourage any person that has information to come forward and contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Yass Police station on 6226 9399. Any information, no matter how big or small, can assist our detectives greatly.”

Katrina’s say

Burrinjuck MP Katrina Hodgkinson said she had obtained a commitment from NSW Education minister Adrian Piccoli that repairs to Yass High School would be their highest priority.

“This is a terrible tragedy for the whole community of Yass," she said.

“Thankfully nobody was injured, and now our prime task now must be to get Yass High School reopened and then repaired as quickly as possible.”

She said a full assessment was still to be done but the damage figure could reach $5 million. 

Geordie Witfield

Geordie Witfield