Family, community pays tribute to popular Tom Price mum

Alicia Perera and Rourke WalshPilbara News
Missing mum Felicity Shadbolt.
Camera IconMissing mum Felicity Shadbolt. Credit: UNKNOWN/Felicity Shadbolt/Facebook

As the Tom Price community was left reeling after a massive four-day search effort for one of its own ended in tragedy last week, family, friends and community members have made heartfelt tributes to a woman who lived life to the fullest.

Wife, mother-of-two and site manager Felicity Shadbolt went missing after going for a run near Mt Nameless, about 7km from town, about 11.30am on January 13. She was not seen again until her body was found by a member of the public about 500m from the Tom Price Tourist Park on Wednesday night.

The search for her involved several hundred people, many of them locals, including police, the SES, the Shire of Ashburton, WorkPac, Rio Tinto and the local pony club.

The investigation into Ms Shadbolt’s death is ongoing and police will prepare a report for the Coroner. While the cause of death is not yet known, at time of time of print her death was not believed to be suspicious, and heat exhaustion and snake bite were among the possibilities.

In a statement released last week, Ms Shadbolt’s family and friends described the keen runner as a “fighter” whose seven-year-old twins meant everything to her.

“Flik was tenacious, stubborn and focused with a real sense of drive. She went after what she wanted and no one could get in her way,” the statement read.

“She (had) a love for life, love for the outdoors and she died doing something she loved.

“She ran until the very end.”

The family also thanked the Tom Price community for its help and determination to find Ms Shadbolt, saying they had found the support “overwhelming” and “couldn’t have asked for any more”.

Ms Shadbolt worked as a senior site manager for WorkPac in Tom Price. In a statement, a spokeswoman said the company had been “deeply saddened by this recent tragic news”.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to Flik’s family, friends and work colleagues during this difficult time,” she said.

A Shire of Ashburton spokeswoman said the local government expressed its “deepest sympathies” to Ms Shadbolt’s family, friends and the Tom Price community and encouraged anyone affected to drop into the community centre to “be together, talk and support each other”.

A GoFundMe page set up by Cr Peter Foster several days afterwards with a $10,000 target to help Ms Shadbolt’s daughters, had skyrocketed to more than $25,000 at time of print.

Tom Price SES manager Kathryn Honeyfield said community members who assisted with the search had been a great asset and had done so despite difficult conditions, including 45C heat on some days.

North West MLA Vince Catania said he felt for the community but praised the efforts of those who were part of the search.

“I think it’s shown that Tom Price is a very close, tight-knit community and they all band together in the time of need,” he said.

“They’ve done that, and it’s a sad set of circumstances but also shows the community spirit of Tom Price very strongly.”

Pilbara District Police Superintendent Paul Coombes thanked the Tom Price and Pilbara community members who had assisted in the search for Ms Shadbolt.

“The assistance provided to search coordinators was unprecedented and aided in facilitating an immediate and concerted response in our attempts to locate Felicity,” he said.

“Although the eventual outcome was not the one that everyone was striving for, the efforts of all are to be commended and hopefully can go partway to assist in the healing process knowing that community members did everything they could.”

Ms Shadbolt’s death is the second high-profile death to rock the Tom Price community in just 18 months.

In August, 2017 the body of 45-year-old local man Kenneth Heelan was discovered near the Mountain View Golf Club the day after he had attended a friend’s birthday party at the club.

The circumstances surrounding his death have not yet been resolved.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails