Family to celebrate crash victim's vibrant life

MH17 crash victim Rob Ayley's family have given their heartfelt thanks to New Zealand for caring as they prepare today to celebrate the life of the "vibrant" man they lost.

Ayley, 29, was on his way home to Otaki from Amsterdam when his Malaysia Airlines flight was downed by a missile over eastern Ukraine.

All 298 people on board were killed and grieving relatives worldwide are now waiting for bodies to be identified and returned to them.

Today in Wellington, Ayley's family and friends will hold a private memorial for the dog breeder and devoted father.

He moved from England to New Zealand when he was 2 and grew up in Tawa, where his parents Jonn and Wendie Ayley still live.

In a joint statement they recalled how their son loved life and his two children.

"Rob was a vibrant young man.

"He had a great sense of family and although he was only 2 when we emigrated he always had a sense of belonging to his English family as well as his Kiwi one.

"So it was a great joy to him that he fathered two beautiful boys who are so like him in many ways but also have a lovely balance with their mum's genes as well.

"Rob lives on in his family, in his boys and in the many memories we all have of him.

"He wasn't a saint, he was no-one important. His death is no more tragic than that of anyone who dies. Death is always a separation from the ones we love and sadness always follows."

Today's service will be held at a church where the family worshipped for 17 years.

"Rob played drums there on a Sunday over time with bright blue hair, dreads, a cheeky smile and at times a teenage attitude.

"He thought nothing of dropping his drumsticks at quiet, poignant moments in the services, but brought a new energy to the worship."

The Ayley family were grateful for the support they have been shown by New Zealanders as they mourned the loss of a son, brother, husband to Sharlene, and father to two.

"God bless our son. Thank you New Zealand for caring."

Donations for his sons Seth, 4, and Taylor, 2, can be made to the Rob Ayley Trust through Westpac Porirua.

The Dominion Post