Brother’s MH17 loss

Philip and Therese de Ruiter with a picture of Philip’s brother Arjen Ryder and wife Yvonne, who were killed on flight MH17.Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS
Philip and Therese de Ruiter with a picture of Philip’s brother Arjen Ryder and wife Yvonne, who were killed on flight MH17.Picture: PHILLIP BIGGS

PHILIP and Therese de Ruiter went to bed on July 17 having reunited with their eldest son, and held their granddaughter Ivy for the first time.

Their peace was to be interrupted by an early morning phonecall.

The Grindelwald couple were in Western Australia when they were told that Mr de Ruiter’s older brother Arjen Ryder and wife Yvonne were among the 298 people on the doomed flight MH17.

Mr and Mrs Ryder — who have an anglicised surname — were on their way home from a seven-week European holiday, and were due to catch up with their Tasmanian-based family in nearby Bussleton, where Mr and Mrs de Ruiter had been visiting their son Ben.

Mr de Ruiter said the 4am phone call on July 18 had set him and his family on an emotional rollercoaster.

‘‘(My sister) was very quiet and calm, just telling us that Arjen and Yvonne had most likely been on that plane,’’ Mr de Ruiter said

‘‘An uncle in Holland they were staying with had put them on the flight and farewelled them.’’

Mr de Ruiter, one of seven siblings, has lived in Tasmania for 30 years and is the manager of Tudor’s Pack and Wrap at Prospect.

He said the morning of the crash was mostly spent on the phone with a case worker from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

‘‘I was in sheer disbelief really,’’ Mr de Ruiter said.

‘‘Incomprehensible. I was silent for a few hours.

‘‘The nature of the situation — that someone would shoot down a plane full of people.’’

A memorial service was held for Arjen and Yvonne Ryder in Albany — where most of Mr de Ruiter’s family is based — with almost 1000 people in attendance.

After a quick stop home in Tasmania, Mr and Mrs de Ruiter flew to Melbourne on Thursday for the MH17 national memorial service, representing the entire Ryder family.

Mr de Ruiter said among those to pass on their condolences were Prime Minster Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove — while representatives from Malaysia Airlines also offered support.

‘‘It was a very moving service, and it was nice to be there with the other families of the victims,’’ Mrs de Ruiter said.

‘‘We didn’t have to explain to anyone why we were there, everyone just understood.

Mr de Ruiter said the family was now waiting for the bodies of crash victims to be confirmed and for Arjen and Yvonne Ryder’s remains to be repatriated.

Both Mr and Mrs de Ruiter say they have let go of their anger and feel no need for retribution.

‘‘We know nothing is in our control, and that God has a plan for everyone,’’ Mr de Ruiter said.

‘‘We take comfort in knowing that Arjen and Yvonne are in heaven together, in peace.

‘‘What was done to them was a horrible and evil thing, but we will pray for forgiveness instead of holding a grudge.’’

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