Cricket’s greats, Australian PM bid farewell to Jane McGrath (Second Lead)

June 25th, 2008 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

By Neena Bhandari
Sydney, June 25 (IANS) Cricketing greats and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Wednesday joined former Australian fast bowling great Glen McGrath in bidding farewell to his wife Jane, fondly remembered as a “beautiful and courageous” person who was an inspiration to women with cancer. Jane, 42, passed away Sunday at the couple’s Cronulla home after an 11-year-long battle with breast cancer and brain tumour. Her husband and children James,8, and Holly,6, were by her side when she died.

Hundreds of people, besides family and friends, gathered for Jane’s funeral at the historic 19th century Garrison Church in Sydney’s famous `The Rocks’ area, where the couple had married in 1999.

“(She will be remembered) as a wonderful wife, loving mother, devoted daughter, understanding and trusting friend and, above all, a beautiful and courageous person,” Bishop Ray Smith said as the service opened.

Among the mourners were the best man at the McGraths’ wedding - former Australian test captain Steve Waugh, former Test cricketers Shane Warne, Mark Waugh Darren Lehmann, Ian Healy, Michael Bevan, together with Bevan’s wife and Jane’s best friend, Tracy, and opposition leader Brendan Nelson and New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma.

Test opener Matthew Hayde’s wife Kellie read words penned by Jane. “The time is here for me to leave this life. I have fought the good fight to the end, I have done my best in this race, I have run the full distance and I have kept the faith.

“And now there is waiting for me a prize of victory awarded for the righteous life, the prize which the lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day - not only to me, but to all those who wait with love.”

White doves were released in the sky and James and Holly blew bubbles as Jane’s white coffin, covered with flowers, was carried from the church.

Many of the mourners wore on their lapels pink ribbons, the colour adopted by breast cancer campaigners.

As the co-founder, along with her husband, of The McGrath Foundation, Jane has left a lasting legacy in providing thousands of women hope and support in their fight against breast cancer.

Following her death, the prime minister told parliament she would remain “a source of inspiration and hope to all”.

She co-founded the McGrath Foundation in 2002 after her initial recovery from breast cancer, when she experienced first hand the shortage of breast care nurses in Australia during her treatment.

In January this year, the McGraths were awarded the Member of the Order of Australia for their commitment to fighting and raising public awareness for breast cancer.

The McGrath Foundation has raised millions of dollars for the fight against breast cancer.

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