Bride pays tribute to shark victim

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The Independent Online

The widow of honeymoon shark victim Ian Redmond told mourners today she would live with her husband "in her heart" in the dream home he tirelessly renovated for their future.

Primary school teacher Gemma Redmond, 27, moved into the Grade II Listed cottage with the IT specialist immediately after their wedding night earlier this month.

Around 500 people who attended his funeral in Dalton, Lancashire, heard how Mr Redmond, 30, threw himself into refurbishing the shell of a building into a complete home which they were due to return to following their break in the Seychelles.

Their hopes were dashed just 10 days after the ceremony when Mr Redmond was savaged by a shark as he swam off Anse Lazio beach on Praslin, the second largest island in the archipelago.

The 30-year-old was quickly brought to shore where a French surgeon, also on holiday, gave first aid on the beach as his new wife looked on.

But Mr Redmond, formerly from Nelson, Lancashire, had lost too much blood due to the massive injuries suffered in the attack on August 16.

Their dream home in Roby Mill, Skelmersdale. was described at the service as a "magnificent testimonial" to Mr Redmond's hard work and vision "which will stand the test of time".

Mrs Redmond vowed to finish the transformation of the cottage as she composed herself to read out a lengthy, heartfelt open letter to "my darling husband Ian".

Paying tribute in her local family church of St Michael & All Angels - the same church where they wed - Mrs Redmond said: "I remember the exciting times that we spent working on our new home together - painting, lifting flagstones, demolishing porches, designing rooms, any skill that you put your mind to you achieved.

"You were just so intelligent with a great eye for detail. Your dedication to make our home special and right and comfortable for us knew no bounds. I want to thank you for working tirelessly on our perfect home.

"I promise I will finish it for us and live there with you in my heart."

The service, officiated by the Rev Tim Barton, heard how the couple commenced the search for their dream home immediately after they were engaged on Christmas Eve 2009 when Mr Redmond knelt on the doorstep of her family home in Dalton and proposed with a single red rose, a bottle of champagne and a giant engagement ring built from wire and tinsel.

Mrs Redmond recalled her wedding day, which was "quite simply the most wonderful day of my life", and then remembered their honeymoon.

"We were having such a happy time," she said. "It was a lovely adventure and we were enjoying experiencing new things.

"We felt so at peace, so relaxed and were so excited about the future. It was truly romantic.

"Each and every time you went swimming and snorkelling and I watched you, I could never quite believe that I was married to you.

"You were the most handsome and perfect man I have ever seen and I always longed for you to come back out of the sea and be back with me."

Earlier, the coffin was brought into the church led by a lone bagpipe player as a visibly shaking Mrs Redmond followed, clasped tightly by her parents David and Coleta Houghton.

Mr Redmond's parents, Stephen and Corinne, and his brother Paul walked behind them.

Their family priest, Father Michael Howarth, read out a tribute on their behalf, entitled "Ian's Life".

The former Fisher More High School pupil and Nelson and Colne College student excelled in his exams before he went on to gain an honours degree in computer science from the University of Manchester.

It was there in his final year that he met his future wife.

Fr Howarth said the former altar boy, who had a love of climbing rocks and boulders, was "smart, athletic, with boundless energy and a ready smile on his face".

"He enriched so many lives," he added.

"He would undoubtedly say his greatest achievement was to have been married to Gemma, whom he loved so very much."

Mrs Redmond said her husband was referred to by his work colleagues at Cegedim Rx in Leyland as the "Gold Standard" of software developers because of his dedication to work.

"But you were also the Gold Standard of men - always smiling, always finding time for the family and friends that you loved so dearly, you were never cross, just kind," she said.

"Above all, you were the Gold Standard of husbands. Amazing, courageous, inspiring, entertaining, patient and loving."

Mrs Redmond's father David placed his son-in-law's tool belt next to the coffin during the service as a symbol of his commitment and endeavour in renovating the cottage.

The Queen song You're My Best Friend played before a private burial took place in the church graveyard.