A beloved stalwart of the Bulli community was laid to rest as thousands of his family, friends and colleagues celebrated his life.
The funeral service for Keith 'Cocky' Caldwell was held at Kembla Grange Racecourse on Friday after he passed away in the intensive care unit of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney on May 30.
Mr Caldwell was the president of the Bulli Surf Life Saving Club for 17 years after joining in his teens but also served 30 years with the NSW Police.
Dean Dudley, who was deputy president under Mr Caldwell for six years, spoke at his friend's memorial and remembered him as a man who "served others above and before himself".
"The number of people who attended the service is a testament to a life well lived," he said. "Most people would struggle to do what he did in two lifetimes let alone one."
Mr Dudley said those who spoke at Mr Caldwell's service talked of his dedication to the police force, the surfing community and his family.
"There were people from all walks of life there to celebrate him as he crossed so many social and cultural divides in his life and that was reflected in the service," he said.
"Cocky's son remembered his father as a man who would meet someone and if their values aligned just a little bit then he would give them the benefit of the doubt and go above and beyond for them.
"He would champion them."
Mr Dudley said the heartfelt funeral whilst being sombre also touched on Mr Caldwell's larrikinism.
"The guard of honour that saw him go beyond this place was fitting but the service was also a joyous celebration of who Cocky was," he said.
"It gave his friends, family and colleagues a chance to celebrate him and everything he meant to them."
Those who attended also heard about Mr Caldwell's charity work and his true love of the ocean.
"There were stories of how Cocky used to float around in Bulli pool as a young man but as he got older he would always say he had to 'go for a swim' or 'catch a wave'," Mr Dudley said.
"He was not a man who only put his toes in the sand."
As a fitting tribute to his years of dedication to the surf life saving club and surfing community, a paddle out will be held on Saturday 10.30am at Bulli Beach for those who want to honour Mr Caldwell.
"A paddle out is a symbolic tribute for any person who has a reverence to the sea and we felt it would be a fitting tribute for the Bulli community to say a final farewell to Cocky in a place he loved and cherished," Mr Dudley said.
"I am looking forward to it as despite it being a sombre occasion, paddle outs are a very deep and spiritual experience for those connected to the ocean."
Mr Caldwell's family have asked those who wish to offer condolences to consider donating to a GoFundMe page set up in his honour to provide a scholarship and mentorship for someone to pursue their dreams.
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