Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Friends and family pay tribute to victims of the crash

From football fans to talented students: messages of love and loss have been pouring in for the passengers who died on flight MH17

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The Independent Online


John Alder and Liam Sweeney were two of Newcastle United’s “most loyal” fans and were on their way to New Zealand to support their team’s pre-season tour, the club said in a statement today. Mr Alder, from Deckham in Gateshead, was known as “The Undertaker” by fellow supporters as he always wore black suits to games. Aged in his 60s, he had been attending matches for decades and had only missed one fixture since 1973.

One of Mr Alder’s neighbours, Margaret Bambra, 66, said: “I have known him for about 40 years. We all knew him as ‘the Undertaker’ because he always wore a black suit and white shirt to every match. He was a lovely man who kept himself to himself and you always saw him doing his garden. I really cannot believe it – it’s totally devastating. He did not deserve this.”

John Alder, who was also a fan of Newcastle United

Mr Sweeney, 28, was equally passionate about the club and volunteered as a steward on supporters’ buses to away games. His brother Marc said: “We all can’t believe it, he was so happy when he managed to afford to go to New Zealand to follow his team. We’ve had some lovely messages from everyone that knew him.

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Newcastle fan Liam Sweeney

“I think John took him under his wing, I didn’t know him personally but I know he was a huge fan. I went to all of the Newcastle home games with Liam but he was so passionate that he travelled everywhere – he was at Oldham the other day and was going to go to Germany. I speak for all the family when I say we are devastated…I just can’t believe it.”


Richard Mayne, 20, from Leicester, a maths and finance student at the University of Leeds, was on his way to Perth in Australia. His father Simon said today that he had chosen flight MH17 specifically because he was diabetic and needed a stopover.

Richard Mayne in April 2014 volunteering for a children's charity in Nepal.

“He was on his way to Perth. When we were looking at flights together, there was this one that stopped in Amsterdam and we thought it would be perfect,” he said. “He was diabetic so we thought it would be a good chance for him to do whatever he needed to do and maybe even go out and have a ride on the bikes and see Amsterdam. He was really looking forward to it. I took him to the airport at 3am myself, to fly to Amsterdam.

“When I first saw it on the news, my heart dropped. I just thought, oh God, oh God – I couldn’t believe it. We were hoping and praying he had fallen asleep at Amsterdam and missed his flight.

“You think you’ve got problems and them something like this happens and it all just takes over. I can’t even bring myself to look at a photograph of him. We are beyond devastated. It is such a beautiful sunny day but our lives have been torn apart.”

Mr Mayne leaves behind his parents and brothers Thomas, 24, William, 19, and sister Scarlett. According to his Facebook page, he was a keen rugby player and recently raised more than £1,000 for Kidasha, which supports disadvantaged children in Nepal.

Writing on Facebook, his friend Mandy Hyde said: “Richard was a fantastic, friendly, inspirational and very much loved student…words cannot express my sadness. The world is missing a very special young man, my thoughts go out to his family and all who will miss him so much.”



Another British student to die in the tragedy was Ben Pocock, from Bristol, who was in his second year of an international business degree at Loughborough University. Like Mr Mayne, he was also on his way to Australia.

British student Ben Pocock

In a statement, the university said he was an “excellent student” and a “fine athlete” who was on course to gain a first class degree. It added that he was on his way to Australia to begin a professional work placement and was intending to study abroad at the University of Western Australia as part of his third year.

In a statement released through the Press Association, the family of Mr Pocock spoke of their "devastation" at their loss.

"The family is devastated to confirm the loss of their son, Ben Pocock, in yesterday's Malaysia Airlines disaster," they said.

"Ben was excited to be travelling to Perth, Australia, to commence six months of study at the University of Western Australia as part of his international business management degree at Loughborough University.

"He was a gifted academic, talented athlete but more importantly a warm, caring, fun-loving son and brother who had an extremely bright future ahead of him.

"Ben is going to be terribly missed not only by his family but by the wider Keynsham community where he made so many long-lasting friends.

"I hope you can understand our wish for privacy at this difficult time and consequently this will be the only media statement made by the family."


Cameron Dalziel, 43, who was travelling on a British passport but also held South African nationality, was on his way to Malaysia where he had moved with his wife and two children to take up a job with CHC Helicopter.

The rescue pilot had been sent for training in the Netherlands and was returning home to his wife Reine, their two sons Sheldon, 14, and Cruz, four. Mr Dalziel’s brother-in-law, Shane Hattingh, said his sister was so traumatised she had not been able to answer phone calls.

“She is basically alone there other than with new friends. So she couldn't even talk to me…It’s crazy, the kids are going to be absolutely shattered,” he told Eye Witness News.


Among the 189 Dutch victims was Regis Crolla, who shortly before boarding the flight posted a picture of his ticket on his Instagram profile, with the caption “I’m so excited”. According to another post, he appeared to be stopping at Kuala Lumpur en route to Bali in Indonesia.

Cor Pan and his girlfriend Neeltje Tolm are also believed to have been on board. Shortly before boarding, Mr Pan posted a picture on Facebook of the aircraft under which he joked: “If it should disappear, this is what it looks like” – a reference to the missing aircraft MH370.

Petra Bleeker posted a picture of the couple, who ran a flower shop, on which she superimposed a white rose. Peter Bootsman wrote: “Such a beautiful couple who have been taken from life. I wish you the best wherever you are.”

Also killed was Dutch senator Willem Witteveen, who was travelling with his wife and daughter.


Retired teachers Michael and Carol Clancy, from the New South Wales city of Wollongong, were among the 28 Australians killed. The couple, who had been on a three-week tour of Europe to celebrate Mr Clancy’s retirement, had saved up to travel first class.

“They were ecstatic to be going – it was a very big thing for them to be doing – it was such an outlay and an expense because it was so hard for them to travel,” Mrs Clancy’s daughter Jane Malcolm told the Illawarra Mercury. “When I spoke to mum at the airport, she was just so excited to be going. They posted a few pictures of their trip and how much fun they were having. I suppose we won’t get the rest of them.”

Nick Norris, 68, from Perth, was also on the flight accompanying his three grandchildren home so they could go back to school while their parents, Anthony and Rin Maslin, spent a few more days in Amsterdam where they had been on holiday. Mo, 12, Evie, 10 and Otis, eight, are all believed to have died alongside their grandfather, who was a keen sailor.

Other Australian victims included Catholic nun Sister Philomene Tiernan, from Sydney, who had been on sabbatical in Europe; Helena Sidelik, from Gold Coast in Queensland, who had been in Amsterdam attending a friend’s wedding; and Roger and Jill Guard, both doctors from Toowoomba in Queensland. Former University of Melbourne student Elaine Teoh and her Dutch boyfriend Emiel Mahler, both 27, were also on board.


Sanjid Singh, a Malaysia Airlines steward whose wife narrowly avoided boarding the missing flight MH370, swapped shifts with a colleague so he could fly on MH17, his distraught father said.

“He told us recently that he swapped with a colleague for the return Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight,” Jijar Singh told The Malaysian Insider, adding that he and his wife had been expecting a visit from their son. “His mother had prepared all his favourite dishes,” he said.

“I have undergone two heart bypasses,” he added. “Our daughter waited until four in the morning to tell us, she dare not tell us earlier. I am 71 and [my wife] is 73. We are in such a state. My whole body is shivering. We are heartbroken because he was our only son. What to do? What has happened, has happened.”

Mr Singh’s death is all the more poignant because his wife, who is also a flight attendant, had switched from Malaysian jet MH370 in similar circumstances. “Sanjid’s wife was meant to fly on MH370 but swapped with another colleague at the last minute,” said his father.


Yuli Hastini and John Paulisen, who lived in the Netherlands with their two young children, were on their way to Indonesia where they intended to visit Yuli’s mother’s grave, having missed her funeral last year. Ms Hastini, 44, who worked for a pharmaceutical company, was originally from Java but married Mr Paulisen, 47, a Dutchman. The couple died alongside their two children, Arjuna, five and Sri, three.


Fatima Dyczynski, 24, one of the four German victims, was on her way to Australia where she had won an internship with IBM. Her parents Jezy and Angela said they had spoken to their daughter on Skype shortly before she boarded the aircraft. “At this moment we just don’t know what to do,” Mrs Dyczynski said. “We believe she...I don’t know what we believe. We are lost.”