Coast-style sendoff for a big farming personality

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 13:48 09/02/2014
Jane Sluys
BIG HEART: Jane Sluys.

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A West Coast farmer who died after being hit by a train has been remembered as having a "big personality" and an even bigger heart.

Louise Jane Sluys, known as Jane, died in Christchurch Hospital on February 1, just over a week after her ute was hit by a train as she left her rural property, about 19km north of Reefton.

The 56-year-old was farewelled by hundreds of mourners at a funeral service at the Reefton Community Centre on Friday afternoon. 

Daughter Shona Sluys was shocked to see so many people turn up at the service, but said she "shouldn't have been surprised, it was my mum".

"People keep telling us she was straight-up, you knew exactly where you stood with her. She used colourful language, she wasn't afraid to be who she was. She was just a big personality."

Jane Sluys was born in South Australia, but became a West Coaster when she bought a dairy farm there with her husband Nick in 1992.

"She loved farming, even though she didn't come from a farm.

"I think they just loved the community - not the weather, the people. They're Coasters."

The couple had been married for 33 years, raising four daughters and had recently become grandparents.

"It was her favourite thing. Her grandchildren just meant everything to her."

Sluys also loved talking to people and helping out those in need.

"If anyone needed something she was just always there to support them."

Shona Sluys said the cause of the January 23 crash was still under investigation.

Police said it appeared the south-bound coal train hit the driver's side of the ute, shunting it about 15 metres into a nearby paddock.

"She didn't drive in front of the train and that's all we know."

Sluys was airlifted to Christchurch Hospital after the crash and remained in a coma in the intensive care unit for nine days.

There were no signs of improvement and her life support was switched off on February 1 while she was surrounded by family and friends, Shona Sluys said.

"I'll miss her laugh, her always being there for us. We were her girls and there was nothing she wouldn't have done for us."

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- The Press

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