A woman who lost her home in the Lismore floods earlier this year has again faced tragedy with the death of her partner just days before giving birth.
John Lush, better known as Gruntus, was a local legend in the NSW Northern Rivers community, regularly performing as a comedian, actor, singer and musician.
It was during Saturday night’s Lismore Lantern Parade, a local event to help ‘heal hearts', that the 43-year-old suffered a heart attack.
He was treated by paramedics at the scene before being rushed to Lismore Base Hospital where he later died.
John leaves behind two young children as well as his partner Vivian, who is preparing to give birth to the couple’s first child this week after a rough few months.
“Viv and John were overjoyed to be bringing this little bundle into the world,” close friend Ebony Scott told Yahoo News Australia.
“John was particularly excited. He was an incredible daddy to his other two children and would have been amazing with this little bub.”
With Vivian due to give birth “any day now”, the community has rallied behind the young family.
“Viv is an incredibly strong person [and] she is holding up as best as can be hoped for,” Ms Scott said.
“She takes every day as it comes and I have no doubt she will in time enjoy a fabulous life with her little bub, embracing the cherished memories of John.
“She has the love and support of family, friends and a whole community of people behind her.”
A local hero is remembered
John and Vivian had only just gotten everything ready for the baby, when they lost “everything” in the flooding earlier this year.
Whilst Ms Scott says the months that followed were “extremely challenging” for them, John was an “incredible, strong and resilient person” who always looked out for others.
“He personally helped so many people come to terms with the devastation that the floods caused,” she said.
“He was devoted to Viv and his kids. John was the heart of Lismore and is completely irreplaceable.”
Donations pour in for the local icon
John’s lasting legacy is evident in a GoFundMe page that Ms Scott has set up to pay for his funeral, and to help Vivian raise their child.
In just a few days, more than $23,000 has been raised.
Tributes for the local legend have flowed in online, with many taking to Facebook to remember ‘Gruntus'.
“[It was] so sudden and totally unexpected,” one person wrote. "Doing what he loved, with the love of his life, Vivian, and their unborn child.
“Gruntus is a Lismore icon, his talents were amazing and varied. He was an amazing human being with a big heart and a love of Lismore like no other."
“He was always a cheerful man, trying to see the best in any situation, even if he was going through his own stuff,” another said
“Knowing John has been an absolute pleasure.”
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