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Tuesday July 22, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday July 22, 2014 MYT 9:04:57 AM
The van den Hende family: (From left) Sharliza Dewa, Marnix, Johannes, Margaux and Piers.
PETALING JAYA: A Dutch-Malaysian family’s sudden death in the MH17 tragedy has shattered the tight-knit community they lived in.
About 700 people turned up for a tearful memorial service on Sunday at the Eynesbury Homestead in Adelaide, Australia, where the family had lived for the past three years.
Malaysian Sharliza Zaini Dewa, her Dutch husband Johannes Rudolfus van den Hende, both 45, and their three children were on their way back to their home in Australia after a month’s holiday in the Netherlands.
Australia’s Herald Sun reported that about half the crowd that turned out for the service comprised children who had known the van den Hende’s sons Piers, 15, Marnix, 12 and daughter Margaux, eight.
Many were moved to tears by the words of the children who spoke on the loss of the “brightest, most positive, down to earth” friends they had ever known.
The van den Hende children went to Bacchus Marsh Grammar School, and were well-known in their community for being active in sports.
Piers was part of the under-15 team in the Melton Phoenix Football Club, and a positive, meticulous student who loved to play golf with his friends.
The Monash Weekly also reported that the club cancelled a match on Sunday that Piers’ team was supposed to take part in.
Marnix was a gifted swimmer at the Melton Swimming Club. He broke his personal best record for the 50m butterfly in March.
Margaux was a talented dancer, known for her imagination, sense of humour and zest for life.
Their school principal, Andrew Neal, described them as “simply beautiful kids”, adding the school would remember the family by planting a tree.
The van den Hende family were permanent residents, holding Dutch and Malaysian passports.
They moved from Kuala Lumpur to Australia more than seven years ago, when Johannes was offered a job at Securency, the Australian Reserve Bank’s note printing firm.
A friend of Sharliza was quoted by Herald Sun as saying she was “an absolutely gorgeous person”.
“It is horrible to think we won’t see her again,” said the unnamed friend, with whom Sharliza had boarded at Cato College in Elsternwick, Melbourne, as a teenager.
A statement released by Sharliza’s family here in Kuala Lumpur also thanked the community for their support.
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