Vale Peter Chapman February 2, 1960 - June 16, 2020

Peter Anthony Chapman

Peter Anthony Chapman

On Sunday, June 28 Peter Chapman's ashes were scattered on Merimbula's Top Lake after the 60-year-old succumbed to Motor Neurone Disease.

For Peter's father Bruce Chapman, of Merimbula, it was the saddest of journeys to travel to Queensland, where Peter spent his last years, to see his son before he died.

Peter was born at Bega Hospital and he attended Merimbula Public School. He has a strong family connection to Merimbula where his great-grandfather gave his name to Chapman Avenue on Fishpen.

The family, which includes Bruce, mum Jan Roberts, sister Kim Cogan and brother Stephen spent a couple of years in Moorabin before returning to Merimbula.

Peter attended Eden Marine High School and had an aptitude for metalwork, tech drawing and science. He also had a love of music and while at school worked in the Mobil service station in Merimbula saving enough money to buy a guitar and amplifier.

After finishing Yr 10 Peter started at Fraser Motors' Eden workshop as a fitter/welder but he wanted to be a motor mechanic and secured an apprenticeship with Maurice Appleyard in Merimbula and used his skills to restore old cars.

In 1986 he enjoyed a holiday in Bali with Greg McKay and Jack Sargent and in a memoir which Peter wrote before his death, talked about his "mistake of trying magic mushrooms" while he was there.

Soon afterwards he moved to the Gold Coast, working in a service station with his brother Stephen.

Peter progressed well and was appointed the workshop manager before moving to a Land Rover dealership to become their service manager. A business degree followed and he was awarded Master Technician of the Year in motor engineering in an Australian-wide category.

It was in 2014 during a trip to Europe with his wife Julie that he caught a cold, which later was diagnosed as pneumonia. In his own notes about his disease Peter recalled having a "funny sensation down his right side".

He started to have health issues but a brain scan showed nothing. Despite the sleep problems and fatigue, the Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis didn't come until 2017, when doctors told Peter he would probably only have two years to live.

But Peter fought on until June 16, 2020 ticking off his bucket list with Julie by his side. He went to Germany to meet up with friends from Merimbula, did a tour of New Zealand in a motor home, travelled in a motor home through the centre of Australia and back along the west coast with Greg and Kerrie McKay, of Merimbula and one of his last trips was to see the ship that was sunk at Pearl Harbour.

Peter made a couple of personal milestones, to celebrate his 60th birthday which he did on February 2 this year (dressed as Freddie Mercury) and to hold his first grandchild Maisie Rose.

Peter's legacy to MND research

In 2017 Peter and his family, raised $14,000 for research into MND when his son Ashley took part in the Gold Coast Marathon.

Peter leaves an important legacy - his notes, which in the end were laboriously typed using just one knuckle, to document his symptoms and the toll of the disease. MND is a neurodegenerative disease that causes rapidly progressive muscle weakness. The disease affects nerve cells (motor neurons) that control the muscles that enable a person to move, speak, breathe and swallow.

Peter's notes will be passed to MND Australia to help with understanding and research into the disease.

On June 11 Peter's father Bruce, obtained special permission to fly to the Gold Coast to see his son, who was by that time in palliative care. Peter passed away on June 16 and a funeral was held on the Gold Coast on June 22.

Peter's last wish was that his ashes should be spread on Top Lake where he had spent many happy times water skiing. Peter leaves a wife Julie, son Ashley and daughter Jessica.