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Drowned Northern Irish honeymoon couple 'destined to be together forever'

Published 26/10/2015

Newly-weds John and Lynette Rodgers drowned off the coast of South Africa while on honeymoon (Caroline Smyth Photography/PA)
Newly-weds John and Lynette Rodgers drowned off the coast of South Africa while on honeymoon (Caroline Smyth Photography/PA)
The First Holywood Presbyterian Church, Co Down, where John Rodgers, 28, and his wife Lynette, 26, were married

A husband and wife who drowned in South African while on honeymoon were "destined to be together forever", relatives have said.

John Rodgers, 28, and his wife Lynette, 26, died on Friday after getting caught in a rip tide at Plettenberg Bay.

The tragedy unfolded just six days after the couple from Co Down, Northern Ireland, walked down the aisle.

Post mortem examinations are due to be carried out early this week before arrangements are made to fly the bodies back home.

At the weekend, both families described their feelings of devastation. On Monday, Mr Rodgers' family issued an additional tribute.

"Lynette has always been considered a member of the family, with John's sisters calling Lynette one of us," they said.

"They will always be remembered as one couple - destined to be together forever."

Colleagues of physiotherapist Mrs Rodgers (nee Reilly) have also paid tribute, describing her as a "kind, gracious and compassionate" friend.

She worked for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust.

Her colleagues have arranged for a tribute to be placed in the sea at Plettenberg Bay.

In a statement, the health workers described their "great sadness".

"Lynette was one of the most kind, and gracious physiotherapists that everyone had the pleasure of working with," it said.

"She was cheerful, loved her work and was kind and compassionate to her patients.

"Lynette always made time, even when busy to help and support colleagues.

"Outside of work Lynette loved life and participated in all the social activities with her colleagues.

"Colleagues and friends in work are deeply affected by the great loss of a dear friend, she will be very sadly missed."

Mr Rodgers, a University of Ulster engineering graduate from Ballygowan, worked for Calvert Office Equipment in Belfast.

At the weekend, both families issued a joint statement outlining their "great shock".

"Our happiness in sharing their recent wedding has been thoroughly devastated," they said. "Both were very dearly loved and brought us great joy."

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

His wife's body was found around 200 metres away along the same beach, the Institute said.

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

The couple tied the knot in front of family and friends at the First Presbyterian Church in the bride's home-town of Holywood last Saturday.

In poignant messages posted on Facebook, Mrs Rodgers conveyed her excitement ahead of her South African adventure.

She had changed her cover photo to a picture of her and her four smiling bridesmaids and thanked loved ones for coming to her wedding.

She wrote: "John and myself would like to thank to everyone that joined us on Saturday and for all the well wishes!

"We greatly appreciate it and had the best day ever. Heading off today so will speak to everyone when we return! Xx"

The Foreign Office is providing consular assistance to both families.

His employers said: "Since John joined our engineering team earlier this year, his enthusiasm, drive and natural ability were apparent to everyone.

"We have been overwhelmed by the number of customers who have contacted us to convey messages of support to both John and Lynette's families, clearly reflecting how popular John was with so many of them.

"John was really excited to be married and was relishing their trip to South Africa, discussing his plans frequently with colleagues and customers alike.

"We are all devastated by the loss of John and Lynette. He was a great colleague and friend, and he will be missed by all of us.

"We would like to extend our sincere condolences to both the Rodgers and Reilly families."

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