Billy Ward.
Billy Ward. Tom Huntley

‘Red’ Billy Ward was family’s golden boy

A DOZEN boxes of flowers are propped on the Ward family dining table.

They may be already wilting, but the pain on Darcy Ward's face is still raw.

Last Sunday Gladstone's Billy Ward took his own life.

He was 20.

He was the region's well loved Olympic boxer, but to dad Darcy he was "just Red".

Billy, affectionately known as Red for his iconic curly hair, became a household name when he represented Australia in the 2012 London Olympic Games.

And while he didn't come back with a medal, he was nothing short of golden in his family's eyes.

"This is a nice shot of Red," Darcy says as he shows me a picture of a young Billy, with a bird perched on his shoulder.

"He loved animals. Bill would always bring home sick birds and we'd fix them up and send them back into the wild," he said.

"I always said he was a talent, I always knew he was something special," Darcy said.

"The first time he tried boxing he was worried he'd hurt me," Darcy said.

The move was just the beginning of an Olympic career for the boxer.

But when he returned from London, Darcy noticed something had changed.

"I never got round to doing it (talking); in hindsight, I wish I did more," Darcy said.

"Billy would worry about other people's problems, but not his own."

The family has been swamped with messages of love and condolences, driving home what a waste Billy's young death was.

One friend wrote: "I've never heard Bill say a bad word against his fellow man, a rare trait in the human race."

Darcy said he supported the Observer's "Gladstone, we need to talk campaign".

"We need to keep the conversation going," Darcy said.

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