Friday 2 December 2016

'There are no words to immortalise John and Lynette' - friends pay tribute to couple who died on their honeymoon

Just over two weeks since loving couple's wedding, Holywood church stages their funeral

Michael McHugh

Published 02/11/2015 | 11:39

John and Lynette Rodgers from Co Down, who drowned on their honeymoon. Photo: Caroline Smyth Photography
John and Lynette Rodgers from Co Down, who drowned on their honeymoon. Photo: Caroline Smyth Photography
Lynette with her mother Eva Reilly and brother Graham
The tragic couple on a night out

Honeymoon couple John Rodgers and Lynette Rodgers who drowned in South Africa will never be forgotten, a family friend has said at their funeral in Holywood, Co Down.

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John Rodgers (28) and his 26-year-old wife Lynette, 26, died last month after getting caught in a riptide at Plettenberg Bay.

The tragic couple on a night out
The tragic couple on a night out

The funeral was held at First Presbyterian Church in Holywood, Co Down, where they were married just six days before their deaths.

Rev Noble McNeely, who officiated at the couple's wedding ceremony, conducted their funeral service.

Lynette with her mother Eva Reilly and brother Graham
Lynette with her mother Eva Reilly and brother Graham

During the service, friend Billy Mawhinney said: "The tragic events in South Africa have extinguished their bright flame too soon but we will never forget our daughter, son, sister, brother or friend.

"We set out to write a tribute but there are no words to immortalise John and Lynette."

The First Holywood Presbyterian Church, Co Down, where John Rodgers, 28, and his wife Lynette, 26, were married last Saturday, October 17. The newly-wed couple drowned while on honeymoon in South Africa, on Friday after getting caught in a rip tide at Plettenberg Bay. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 25, 2015. Prayers were said for the couple and their grieving families at morning worship today. See PA story DEATH Beach. Photo credit should read: Lesley-Anne McKeown/PA Wire
The First Holywood Presbyterian Church, Co Down, where John Rodgers, 28, and his wife Lynette, 26, were married last Saturday, October 17. The newly-wed couple drowned while on honeymoon in South Africa, on Friday after getting caught in a rip tide at Plettenberg Bay. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 25, 2015. Prayers were said for the couple and their grieving families at morning worship today. See PA story DEATH Beach. Photo credit should read: Lesley-Anne McKeown/PA Wire

Mrs Rodgers (nee Reilly) was an NHS physiotherapist from Holywood who friends described as kind and compassionate.

Mr Rodgers, a popular and enthusiastic engineering graduate from Ballygowan, worked for an office equipment company in Belfast.

He was discovered in shallow surf on Robberg Beach by a local man at around 6pm on Friday October 23, South Africa's National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.

His wife's body was found a short distance away along the same beach.

Doctors performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the couple but they were pronounced dead at the scene.

The families of John and Lynette placed a death notice with the funeral details in the Belfast Telegraph.

It stated: "We will all miss both of them dearly. Linked together forever".

The couple, who were together for four years, will be buried side-by-side.

In South Africa a retired teacher who helped pull the bodies of the couple from the sea has revealed how he and other locals battled in vain to save their lives.

John Hall (70) who was walking along the beach when he found the bodies of the couple, was part of a desperate bid to resuscitate them.

"We just wanted to do as much as we could to help," he said:

"We certainly weren't going to give up. The resuscitation carried on for around 45 minutes to an hour with no avail. I have been left absolutely traumatised," he told the Sunday Life.

"The whole town is devastated and every time I go down to the beach I can think of little else now. I don't think this town will ever truly get over it."

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