I was very sad to hear that Randall 'Animal' Nelson passed away this week. Our community has lost one of its warmest and most respected members.
Animal was an unmistakeable and irreplaceable part of Kings Cross. He was a tireless contributor to our community. From the back of his Harley he looked out for people who were vulnerable, who needed a helping hand or even just a kind word.
As the local MP nearly twenty years ago, I worked with Animal to stop Health Minister Andrew Refshauge from closing down St Vincent's Hospital. Since then I have been lucky to have Animal by my side through many important battles for our community.
I know I am not alone in having Animal's help during a tough spot. There are hundreds, perhaps even thousands of children and parents who will have wonderful memories of Animal visiting hospital wards to hand out gifts at Christmas time, and entertaining kids at our Lord Mayor's New Year's Eve picnic.
At each New Year's picnic Animal would try to convince me to come on a ride on his bike. I'd always tell him that my life had enough excitement as it was. Now I'm sad to say that I'll never be able to take him up on his offer.
One of the most wonderful things about the community of Kings Cross is that you're not judged on your history. People are interested in what contribution you're making today.
Bikies have a bit of a reputation, but Animal was one of the angels of Kings Cross. He was a man who earned the respect of all who met him - be it the dancers and bouncers along the strip, or the nuns at St Vincent's.
Animal was an inspiring person. We may never see someone quite like him again, but I hope our community is lucky enough to see many more people who share his kindness of spirit, generosity and compassion. People like Animal are what make Kings Cross such a remarkable place.
Animal's funeral will be held at The Wayside Chapel on Saturday, 4 October at 11am.