Tragic honeymoon couple John and Lynette Rodgers to be laid to rest in Holywood
Family and friends will gather today for the funeral of John and Lynette Rodgers in the same church where they celebrated their wedding just 16 days ago.
As the loving young couple left First Holywood Presbyterian Church on October 17, no one could possibly have guessed at the drowning tragedy that was about to strike.
John Rodgers (28) and Lynette (26) died during their honeymoon on a beach in Plettenberg Bay in South Africa on October 24.
Rev Noble McNeely, who officiated at the couple's wedding ceremony, will now conduct their funeral service.
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.
Rev McNeely will officiate during the 11.30am funeral service today, after which a private burial will take place in a nearby cemetery.
The minister confirmed that the couple, who were together for four years, will be buried side by side.
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".
It is a tragedy which has touched two hemispheres.
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.
"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."