To many locals, David Bannerman needs no introduction. He was former president of the Samford & Districts Progress & Protection Association (SDPPA), former editor of The Village Pump, founder and editor of the South Pine Chronicle, architect of recycling stations at the Samford Tip and its former caretaker (now the Samford Waste Transfer Station), key figure in the restoration of the Farmers Hall on Main St, former Chairman of the Trust at the Highlands Recreation Reserve cricket ground and instigator of the local Chronicle Cup cricket match. He ran for Council and enabled the community to meet local candidates of recent state and federal elections by chairing Meet the Candidates events for the SDPPA. David wrote his story on his own terms, which is how he closed the final chapter.
After being diagnosed with cancer and given two months to live, David chose to undertake voluntary assisted dying, which became eligible to Queenslanders on 1 January 2023.
Voluntary assisted dying is an additional end-of-life choice giving eligible people who are suffering and dying, the option of asking for medical assistance to end their lives. There are strict eligibility criteria for accessing voluntary assisted dying, available in the state Voluntary Assisted Dying Act, 2021.
“Nikki Boyd was a strong advocate, which I thank her for. Last year if this had happened, I would have had a very gruesome death. The doctor said, ‘the last month won’t be very nice,’” David said. “I’m the gold standard for this Act. I feel it just miraculously fell open for me because the Government were civilised enough to bring in this voluntary assisted dying and there are doctors in the system who are willing to support it.”
For the last seven months of his life, David’s wife Helen fed him via a tube and helped him manage his pain. To have the choice to end his current suffering was extremely important to David.
“I’ve never wanted anyone to be in charge of me,” he said. “Assisted dying suddenly meant I have a specific time I’m in control of. I’ve been able to contact all my old friends. And it’s given me time to set all my affairs straight.”
David’s wife Helen and three sons Gavin, Keith and Malcolm were extremely supportive of his decision which he was grateful for. In his last days, his thoughts continually turned to his family.
“The grandkids have filled out my life,” he said.
David’s substantial contribution to Samford was a source of pride as he reflected on his time here.
“I feel like I’ve been a good citizen. Citizenship is important, you’ve got to take part in your community,” David said. “I would encourage anyone just to go along to a Progress Association meeting. Because the Progress Association sits halfway between our elected representatives and citizens. You get the local Councillor coming to these meetings, and he’s been good.”
The Private Percy Cash Bridge is an example of working with Council to improve the local area.
“Some people say it’s a ‘bridge to nowhere’, I say ‘it’s a bridge to the next 100 years.’”
In his last weeks, David was still doing his bit to improve the community by picking up rubbish on the side of the road during his daily walks. He remained passionate about recycling for a better future which is unsurprising from the founder of the Trash and Treasure shed at the Samford Waste Transfer Station.
“The secret of (Trash and Treasure) is that it made people coming to the tip anticipate they might get something. So they generally came in a fairly good mood. People in a bad mood generally won’t recycle,” David said.
In his final days, David was similarly passionate about letting others suffering from a terminal illness know that options were available to them.
“For me, voluntary assisted dying is painless, it’s procedural, it’s not confronting. For someone in my situation, it’s just a relief.”
David was also given the chance to say goodbye to the community he loved being an active part of.
“I’ve had a good life; I’ve had a constructive life. I’ve lived a better life than I thought I would.”
“I’ve spoken to a lot of friends. And those people I haven’t spoken to, I bid them farewell and wish them well.”
David Bannerman passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on Monday 27th February 2023. Family and friends are invited to attend a service at Samford Cemetery on Tuesday 7th March at 10am, followed by a celebration of David’s life at the Farmers Hall, Main Street, Samford.