The Matilda Way

After our lunch, in Part 3 of Bless this Road, we proceed to name and formally proclaim open The Matilda Way: the repaired section of Kyogle Road where six people died.

Sadly, our expert road safety advisors tell us that the repairs are of poor quality, the many weaknesses of the new road design potentially creating significant new hazards. Its safety rating increased from 1 (the lowest possible rating) to only 2. For the expenditure of over a million dollars in federal funds, this is a poor showing, to be sure.

Nevertheless, we need to celebrate and move on.

The Mayor of Tweed Shire, Cr. Katie Milne, gathers together the children and young people and ceremoniously cuts a brilliant, sparkling purple ribbon to proclaim this stretch of Kyogle Road to be known forever as The Matilda Way

Accompanied by many of Matilda Bevelander’s teenaged friends and two of Karl’s special young friends, Ashwin Bulmer and Erin Bulmer, Mayor Milne formally declares The Matilda Way to be open.

Karl was particularly close to Erin and I was thrilled that she could participate in such a big way in our event. She managed one of our interactive processes with great aplomb!

Karl and Erin, on his birthday, June 2010

Now that we have blessed the road, we can always call that stretch of the Kyogle Road by its new name. We no longer have to call it “the crash site”.

Tweed Shire Mayor, Katie Milne, cutting the ribbon

Remembrance, gift-giving and appreciations

We provide many opportunities for participants to share their appreciation, love and sadness in several small private rituals. Family and friends write blessings and place them on large photos of Cecilia, Matilda and Karl.

We also write prayers for our three loved ones on small cards and burn them in a cauldron, allowing the hopefulness of our prayers to rise upwards on the smoke. The large candle from Karl’s memorial service stands watch behind the cauldron.

Photo: Diane Penson

Giving thanks

The final part of our day of blessings is gift-giving and appreciation — and speeches of thanks. We offer gifts to many first responders, including the police, emergency services and the hospital staff who helped us.

In all, we distribute forty Certificates of Appreciation, as well as a dozen gifts of succulent plants (plants that are loved for their “resilience”).

Succulent plants for gifts

During this poignant afternoon of remembrance, gift-giving and appreciations, Tony Stamford, a senior paramedic (who attended on his own time), weeps publicly, explaining how he had never had such an experience and how, blessedly, our Bless this Road day caused him to radically reconsider his attitudes toward so-called “victims” of road trauma.

Cecilia, Matilda and Karl (and the other people who died on this road) are real people, Tony now understands. They have loved ones who care deeply for them. He finds that insight both heartening and healing.

Some of us weep as our hearts open further to Tony’s powerful insights.

Tony Stamford speaking to the camera after Bless this Road

Grace will lead me home

Then many of us weep again, as we sing together, finally, “Amazing Grace”:

     Through many dangers, toils and snares,
     I have already come;
     ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
     And grace will lead me home.


Steph Vajda of Ferment Collaborate has made a short video of the Bless this Road event in September 2018.  You can see it here: