A TRAGIC teenager’s close bonds with his East Lothian family were stronger than ever despite being “half a world away”, his heartbroken father has said.
Robbie McKenzie would have playful conversations over Skype with his big brother Donald, who remained in Haddington when his parents and siblings emigrated to New Zealand four years ago.
The devastated family is still trying to come to terms with his death earlier this month, when he was killed in a quad-biking accident on their North Island farm.
But they are trying to find solace in the fact that Robbie’s “perfect” personality had touched so many people throughout his short life.
In a moving eulogy at Robbie’s funeral, his father Calum described the close family bonds he shared, despite the distance between some relatives.
Robbie always looked up to his eldest brother Donald, who is an apprentice at joiner and builder HM Raitt in Musselburgh.
Mr McKenzie said: “He adored Donald – the leader of the pack – following his every move, checking out his jokes, checking out how he gelled his hair, getting alongside his latest ideas, copying his skills and his fashions like all the best younger brothers do.
“If ever a wee Scottish boy was born to be an adventure-seeking, enthusiastic, fun-loving Kiwi it was Robbie. He loved his life here.”
Robbie had always been eager to help on the farm, and as soon as it was the school holidays, he would be out with his father to work at the dairy.
Sadly he died doing just that, when he was driving a quad to get the cows for early milking.
He drove over a ditch he had not noticed in the dark, and the machine tipped on top of him and pinned him down under a metre of water.
His father, who battled to save him at the scene, said the family – including Robbie’s mother Felicity, other brother Eoghan and little sister Flora – would be forever grateful for the role he played in their lives.
He said they would treasure memories of last Christmas, which was celebrated with Donald via an internet video link-up.
“Within minutes of the three boys getting together at Christmas there was a major press-ups competition under way – shared by the wonders of Skype with a loving family half a world away,” said Mr McKenzie.
He said that Robbie and Eoghan were so close that they were often confused as twins, while he was patient and gentle with his little sister Flora.
The McKenzie family also spent time in Tasmania before settling in New Zealand, but Robbie took it all in his stride, according to his father.
Robbie, who was buried at the family farm in Opononi after the service last Friday, would have been 15 in August.
Concluding the poignant eulogy, Mr McKenzie said: “Special is not a good enough word. We will always remember you and thank you for being Mr Perfect in so many ways, and especially in your selflessness of always thinking of others first. You have made all of our lives so much richer and we are forever grateful.”