‘His courage was an inspiration’

The late Tommy Hardes. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The late Tommy Hardes. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A colourful and courageous Queenstown chef who died this month, aged 45, was given only months to live when he was originally treated for cancer eight years ago.

Flame’s head chef for many years, Tommy Hardes was found with a tumour in his lower spine in 2016.

Most of the tumour was removed during an eight-hour operation, however it eventually spread to his brain.

Tommy, who had to learn to walk again, hit the headlines during 2021, in the Covid era.

He’d gone to Western Australia to escape Queenstown’s winter, but when he needed to return home to resume chemo, he was refused an emergency visa despite his oncologist warning his cancer would otherwise regrow.

His Flame boss Lou McDowell told Mountain Scene: "It’s inhumane how sports stars and entertainers get entry, but not a terminally-ill, hard-working resident who has contributed and paid his taxes for 10 years or more."

Tommy was eventually allowed to return four months later.

At his funeral last week, his friend and original Flame boss Dawn Sherbrooke noted his oncologist said he was the most colourful character she’s ever had the pleasure of treating.

"She advised him to travel and get out and enjoy his life, which he did."

Summing up, Sherbrooke said: "Tommy’s braveness, his tenacity, his perseverance and his courage are an inspiration.

"He has the most incredible friends, and it’s a real testament to him [as to] what an impact he had on people’s lives.

"He had a short life, but boy did he pack a lot into it."