Mateship defined Ken Talbot as much as any other trait, former Brisbane Broncos coach Wayne Bennett has told mourners at a funeral service for the mining magnate.
More than 1000 people packed Brisbane’s St John’s Cathedral to farewell Mr Talbot, who died alongside a team of Sundance Resources executives in a plane crash last month.
Mr Bennett paid tribute to his long-term friend, who was a leading supporter of the Broncos and a benefactor of the club, speaking of the grief his death had caused.
“We shall never forget you, the simple coal miner who changed our lives,” he told mourners.
Mr Bennett said he enjoyed more than one rum and Coke with Mr Talbot after the wins and losses on the footy field, and over the years the players came to see him as a mate.
“They saw him as one of the boys,” he said.
“He always had time for us, no matter what station we were at in our life. He loved the common man.”
The service was told Mr Talbot was a humble man of humble beginnings – a public school boy and the son of a man who worked at times as a butcher, truckie and shearer.
“He always introduced himself as a simple coal miner. He didn’t want to make people feel unimportant. It was one of his most enduring traits, his humility,” Mr Bennett said.
Earlier, Mr Talbot’s adult son Liam Talbot told mourners his father was happiest with a drink in his hand, surrounded by family and friends. “(He was a) mining man, businessman, engineer, dedicated fundraiser, charity giver, friend, family man and, my favourite, Dad,” he said.
“He was happiest when he had a rum and Coke in his hand, surrounded by family and friends.”
Ken Talbot’s adult daughter Courtney penned a poem in his honour, saying he was someone she always turned to for advice, and knew how to handle any situation.
Friend Ken Carnes summarised the success Mr Talbot, 59, had as a miner and international businessman. He said he had a gift for forming natural friendships with everyone from the shipping hand up to the top boss.
“He knew more about some people than their colleagues,” Mr Carnes said. He said Mr Talbot also knew how to have a good time and was a great ambassador for Queensland tourism, taking visitors out to a game of league, on a boat to Tangalooma, or out for a 1kg steak.
“These are the things that set Ken apart,” he said. “His word was his bond. If he shook hands on a deal, it was done.”
Broncos captain Darren Lockyer was among the mourners as was Nicole Hollows, the chief executive of Macarthur Coal, the mining company Mr Talbot founded.
The public service has concluded and will be followed by a private wake at Suncorp Stadium, where Mr Talbot’s favourite drink, rum and Coke, will be served.
Mr Talbot, his executive assistant and the entire board of Sundance Resources were killed last month when their plane crashed in the jungle in the Republic of Congo.
The latest BRW Rich 200 list put Mr Talbot’s wealth at $965 million. He died before he could face charges that he paid secret commissions to jailed former Beattie government minister Gordon Nuttall between 2002 and 2005.
Nuttall is serving a seven-year jail term for corruptly receiving payments from Mr Talbot and another businessman.