NEWS | Anne Lim
Monday 4 May 2015
Bible Society mourns the death of Graeme Best, who for the past several years led the Illawarra Christian School Bike for Bibles three-day ride from Canberra to Wollongong in NSW.
On Saturday afternoon, during this year’s event, Graeme was leading a group of cyclists on the Hume Highway between Gunning and Goulburn when it is believed he suffered a heart attack, fell to the roadway and died instantly.
An emergency nurse travelling in the road crew behind administered CPR, but Graeme was not able to be revived. He was declared dead on arrival at Goulburn Base Hospital. A science teacher at Illawarra Christian School, Graeme was just 61.
The principal of the school, Simon Lainson, travelled to Goulburn that evening to break the news of Mr Best’s tragic death to the riders of the other groups and announced that the ride would cease. The majority of the 45 riders – students from Years 6 to 12 – and support crew made their way home that night with the remainder returning on Sunday morning.
“Graeme was a faithful, godly teacher, colleague and friend and we’re going to very much miss him, but we know that he’s with his Saviour, so we have hope in our group,” said Mr Lainson.
“Obviously, the kids are wrestling with that, but it’s a privilege to be able to walk with them through this journey. We’d value people’s prayer at this time as we wrestle with this as a school community.”
Illawarra Christian School has released a statement today, saying Mr Best died “doing something he loved – riding his bike, supporting young people and raising money for the spread of the gospel.”
Former Bike for Bibles leader Jim Blaxland, who was leading one of three other groups on the ride, commented on the composure of the student. “There were obviously tears and sadness, but I was surprised by how well composed everyone was,” he said. “From a Christian point of view, we can only assume that God has got it all in his hands, and in a heavenly sense death for a Christian is something we can look forward to.” The school is providing counselling support to staff, students and families.
Mr Blaxland paid tribute to Mr Best’s fundraising prowess and dedication to Bike for Bibles.
“Graeme has been a very passionate and dedicated rider and supporter of Bike for Bibles for many, many years,” he said.
“He was at one time pastor of Miranda Congregational Church and he did two Bike for Bibles rides across the whole width of Canada when Bible Society had their 10-year conferences. The last one was in 2010 and he raised a huge $19,000.
“He has run six or seven Illawarra Christian School rides and has raised about $150,000 through these rides for Bible Society work.”
Bible Society’s CEO Dr Greg Clarke said he was distressed to hear of Graeme’s death. “I want his family and friends to know how saddened we are and how much it means to us that he was riding to support Bible mission work at the time. I am certainly motivated all the more to be dedicated with all our life and breath to the work the Lord has given us. The family and the school’s ongoing faithfulness to our work has been immensely humbling to experience.”
A coronial report into the cause of death is expected to be released tomorrow.
Graeme Best’s family are generously asking that Graeme’s friends and family donate to the work of Bible Society, in lieu of flowers. We are so touched by this gesture. You can give to the cause Graeme so loved, by clicking here.