SIGN OF SUPPORT: Surfers and friends pen their well wishes to shark attack victim Mathew Lee at North Wall in Ballina.
SIGN OF SUPPORT: Surfers and friends pen their well wishes to shark attack victim Mathew Lee at North Wall in Ballina. Marc Stapelberg

Fears discussed at gathering for Ballina shark attack victim

A CROWD of friends and supporters gathered at North Wall, Ballina, on Saturday in a show of support for shark attack victim Mathew Lee.

About 100 people attended the event, donating money to help with Mr Lee's medical costs and to sign a bodyboard which will be presented to Mr Lee.

Mr Lee, 32, of Ballina, was bodyboarding at Lighthouse Beach near North Wall when he was attacked by a great white shark on Thursday morning.

Suzy Gerada and Mathew Lee.
Suzy Gerada and Mathew Lee. Contributed

He remains in a serious condition at the Gold Coast University Hospital.

Mr Lee's friends James McQuaker and Joe McDonald said they were stoked to see so many people turn out.

"It just goes to show how the surfing community comes together," Mr McQuaker said.

"I think it's quite hard for everyone. It's hit the community pretty hard. There's been multiple shark attacks now."

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The day after Mr Lee was attacked a surfer was knocked off his board by a shark at Lennox Head.

Mr McDonald, who is setting up a trust fund to raise money to help Mr Lee and his family cover medical costs, said it was wonderful to see so many people wanting to help.

"The response has been great, we just wanted to help in any way we could," Mr McDonald said.

"The recovery period is going to be long, we wanted to do what we could to chip in."

Mr McQuaker said the signed bodyboard, donated by Jarrod Gibson, is a "kind gesture" from the bodyboarding community.

"The signing of the bodyboard is in respect to Mat, being an icon and such a well-liked guy that he is," Mr McQuaker said.

"It's like a get-well card for him.

A bodyboard bearing get-well messages for shark attack victim Mathew Lee.
A bodyboard bearing get-well messages for shark attack victim Mathew Lee.

"We'd like to see him wake up in a few days' time and have this big board there waiting for him.

"I can't wait to see his reaction when he wakes up. Mat's got a pretty big smile."

Mr McDonald said that the recent shark attacks were worrying.

"It is getting fairly concerning from the point of the local surfing community," he said.

"It is concerning. As a surfer myself it is something that plays on your mind every time you go out.

"It is quite scary. I guess it makes you realise that you are in their territory."

However, he said, he didn't believe shark attacks were becoming more common but were simply heard about more, thanks to the media and social media.

"Also, the population is increasing, so there's more people in the water," he said.


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