Community mourns Ballarat's Tom Nolan

A BALLARAT teenager who died in a collision on Friday has been remembered as a loyal friend and likeable student who was popular with his football teammates.An outpouring of shock and grief has flowed in the wake of 18-year-old Tom Nolan's death. He died after his car hit a tree and caught fire at Gatum near Hamilton.St Patrick's College director of community development Mark Waddington described the former student as genuine and well-liked who made friends easily.Mr Nolan graduated from St Patrick's College last year and had since undertaken a plumbing apprenticeship.''There is a great sense of sadness and loss at the school today,'' Mr Waddington said yesterday.He said counselling was available to older boys at the school who knew Mr Nolan.Yesterday the East Point Football Netball Club, where Mr Nolan played, was also organising counselling for its players and an AFL chaplain will visit the club on Thursday night.East Point Football Netball Club captain James Park said the community was reeling after the death of his close friend.''Everyone loved him. I've never heard a bad word spoken of Tommy,'' he said.Co-captain Brad Whittaker said Mr Nolan never took a backward step when he played football.''He was always committed, that's for sure,'' he said.Club president Alan Dennis said players such as Mr Nolan had been slated as future leaders of the ''close-knit club''.Mr Dennis said players would have added motivation for the remaining games in the season.''There will always be that missing link as far as the team goes,'' he said.Meanwhile, the small community of Linton was mourning the loss of 40-year-old Gavin Ringin whose body was retrieved from the Woody Yaloak Creek at Happy Valley on Saturday.Yesterday it remained unclear how Mr Ringin's ute had become stuck in the creek. Mr Ringin was a keen pool player and a regular at the Cape Clear Hotel.Publican Lorraine Cameron said Mr Ringin was known for his ''wicked sense of humour''.''He was a very easy-going man (he) fitted in well with everybody,'' she said.