Funerals mark double drowning tragedy

18:36, Dec 19 2012
Robert Groves
DROWNED: Robert Groves died while trying to help Judith Palmer.

An Auckland woman who drowned the day before her daughter's wedding and the man who died trying to rescue her will both be farewelled this week.

A dream island wedding in Rarotonga turned to tragedy for two Auckland families last week when nurse Judith Lorraine Palmer, 61, drowned and Robert Groves, 64, died while trying to save her.

Palmer's daughter Vanessa, a triathlete and PE teacher, was due to marry her fiancé the next day.

Palmer and Groves were friends and neighbours from Birkenhead and both leave behind widows.

John Palmer, Auckland city's police chief inspector, and his wife Judy had been married for 42 years, and Robert and Denise Groves for 40 years.

Both couples were staying in Vaimaanga, in the southwest corner of Rarotonga.

The area where the drownings happened is a notorious swimming spot and had just been hit by strong winds and swells.

A funeral for Palmer will take place at St Peter's Anglican Church, Takapuna, at 11am tomorrow.

A service for Groves will be held at the North Shore Memorial Park Crematorium Chapel, Albany, at 1pm on Friday.

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