A Waringstown woman who sang at the wedding of newly weds Lynette and John Rodgers has spoken of her heartbreak at their tragic deaths in South Africa.
Helen Mansfield, who has been friends with Lynette’s mum Eva for 30 years, said everyone is ‘just devastated’.
Physiotherapist Lynette (26) and 28-year-old John died after getting into difficulties while out swimming together.
Helen recalled how happy the couple were as she sang ‘The Rose’ while they signed the register after their wedding in Holywood on October 17.
“It was a really happy wedding. Lynette, the bride, was going around all the tables chatting to everyone about their honeymoon plans,” she told the MAIL.
“Everyone who was there is devastated,” said Helen who visited Eva the day after she was told of the couple’s untimely death.
“I feel totally useless. Everyone is so upset,” she said.
Helen who was in hospital with Eva when they gave birth to their sons on the same day 30 years ago, said: “It is really heartbreaking. I don’t know how they are going to cope.”
Though the friends had lived close to each other in Holywood, they maintained their friendship when Helen and her husband Ben moved to Waringstown.
“No one can take in what happened. It is so sad. When they are brought home it will be really hard for the family.
“We are all still in shock. It is just horrible.
John, who was originally from Ballygowan, and Lynette held their wedding ceremony at the First Holywood Presbyterian Church in the bride’s home town on October 17, followed by a reception at Ballygally Castle Hotel near Larne.
Physiotherapist Lynette and John died while out swimming together at Plettenberg Bay on the Western Cape on Friday.
Their families previously released a joint statement saying that the tragedy had left them utterly devastated.
“It has come as a great shock to both the Reilly and Rodgers families to learn of the sudden and tragic events in South Africa, which have taken the lives of Lynette and John,” they said.
“Our happiness in sharing their recent wedding has been thoroughly devastated. Both were very dearly loved and brought us great joy.”