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Kenya crash victims farewelled

Published: 8:15AM Saturday January 26, 2013 Source: ONE News

The funeral for the couple killed in a mini-van accident in Kenya was held in the Bay of Plenty today.

More than 2000 mourners attended the service, where each of Grace and Brian Johnston's ten children remembered their parents.

Whakatane anaesthetist Dr Brian Johnston, 64, and wife Grace, 57, were on a Bethlehem College mission in Kenya when their mini-van rolled earlier this month. The crash also took the life of a former Bethlehem College student, 19-year-old Caitlin Dickson, and their driver.

Family friend Michael Shadbolt ran the service, which was held at Tauranga's Bethlehem College grounds, and began by describing the couple as "simply marvellous folk".

He said that Brian and Grace were outstanding people, who were wise and witty, humble and hilarious.

"Grace and a friend were admiring a beautiful garden; Grace said, I don't do gardens, I do children," he said.

The couple were remembered by their ten children, who one by one spoke of their parents' loving natures and charity work in Africa.

"He was the most selfless man and did everything he could to make our mum happy," said one daughter about Brian Johnston.

"Even though he was really busy he'd always make time for each and every one of us," said another.

Grace's sense of humour was evident in the advice she left for her four sons.

"Treat women kindly. Forever is a long time to live alone and it's even longer to live with someone who hates your guts," said son Chris Johnston.

A guard of honour was formed by all who attended the service, and the Johnston children carried the caskets of their parents out of the service to the awaiting hearses.

The family attended a private burial in the Tauranga suburb of Pyes Pa.

The funeral for Caitlin Dickson was held on Thursday.

Twelve members from the group in the mini van required medical attention following the accident and five members of the group are still being cared for in Nairobi.

The New Zealanders were part of a group of 19 people building classrooms in a small village north-east of Nairobi.

Donations totalling $20,000 have already been deposited into an account set up in memory of the victims.

The money will be donated to the Kenyan community where the victims were carrying out aid work.

A further $8000 has been donated to the Johnston family.

Outstanding parents

Earlier, Bethlehem College principal Eoin Crosbie said the Johnstons' will both be remembered today as a one of a kind couple.

"Brian and Grace have been outstanding parents for Bethlehem College," he said. "You couldn't wish for better parents."

Bay of Plenty MP and health minister Tony Ryall has also expressed his sympathy to the family.

"Grace and Brian were active and well liked members of the Bay of Plenty community, and they will be sorely missed," he said.

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