The West

Service prays for Ukraine peace

The family of Yvonne and Arjen Ryder hope the tragic way the Albany couple lost their lives is a catalyst for peace and reconciliation rather than revenge.

More than 800 people attended a memorial service yesterday at the Free Reformed Church of Albany, where Mr Ryder was a deacon, to remember the couple who died when MH17 was shot down over Ukraine on July 17.

The couple's three children, Robyn, 30, Drew, 26, and Tiffany, 24, fought through tears to speak, remembering their parents as "amazing" people who would be "treasured for ever".

"We are so thankful for the most wonderful childhood we were able to experience," Robyn said. "Mum and I had a close bond which became stronger when I had a child.

"Dad was such an inspiration, not only to us, but to all who knew him. He taught us that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it and he led by example."

Mr Ryder had lived in Albany since he was aged six, working at the Department of Agriculture and Food for 32 years.

Mrs Ryder was a teacher's assistant with special needs students at Albany's John Calvin School for 13 years.

The school cancelled classes yesterday as a sign of respect.

Pastor Hendrik Alkema said the "unspeakable tragedy" was hard to comprehend and urged the congregation to seek comfort in their Christian faith.

"For the most part we are devastated, but there remains an element of unreality . . . not just the blow of their passing but how it happened," he said.

"A lot of the time we are prepared, then here, out of nowhere, hearing the news - there was no time for goodbyes, no warning and no messages. How awful that is."

Pastor Alkema said Mrs Ryder had expressed anxiety about flying to family and friends.

"The trip was planned quite meticulously by Yvonne . . . she wasn't thrilled about flying. It wasn't an easy thing for her," he said.

"Arjen reassured her, 'If it's our time, it's our time. If the Lord wants to take us home, he will. There's nothing to worry about'.

"As hard as it is to accept, we accept this was their time."

Mr Ryder's brother Drew asked for his sibling to be remembered for his "infectious enthusiasm for life".

"The only way we can make sense of the senseless is by knowing we're not in control," he said.

"We ask not for revenge, rather for prayer that this tragic event can serve as a catalyst for peace."

At a wake afterwards, Drew Ryder said it was humbling to see the crowd and to know his brother and sister-in-law touched so many lives.

"It is a sad situation but at the same time part of our faith says their life goes on and we think they are in a better place," he said.

Mr Ryder said it was ironic for two such gracious peace seekers to be taken so violently.

"My prayer is that somehow, not just Arjen and Yvonne, but all the other people who lost their lives didn't lose them in vain, that we can somehow soften hearts and minds in Ukraine and Russia," he said.

The West Australian

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