Briton killed in Bali blast is buried while others wait

By Charles Begley,Andrew Johnson
Tuesday 14 January 2014 04:45

Jonathan Ellwood was finally laid to rest yesterday, two weeks after the terrorist attack in Bali which claimed his life. Despite the delays in repatriating the 38-year-old's body, his funeral was the first one to be held in Britain.

Fifteen Britons have been confirmed dead and another 12 missing from an estimated 183 killed in the attack.

Jon's brother Tobias and sister Totty fought with the authorities to release his body and had already said their goodbyes in Indonesia.

But in the village of Aldbury, in Hertfordshire, they and their parents were thankful to be able to give him a dignified burial.

The Reverend Huw Bellis, the vicar of the Norman-built St John the Baptist Church, said the family had been moved by the tide of public support. "His mother, Caroline, has spoken of being helped by the wave of love and support from all over the world. It's been a terribly difficult time for them, but their thoughts and prayers are also very much with the families who have not been able to bury their loved ones.

''Their thoughts are also with the friends he lost in the attack and his close friend and fellow teacher Shane Walsh-Till, who also died.''

Back in Bali, the coffin of Jon, the director of studies at the International School, in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, had no handles, name plates or ornate carvings. His sister, also an international teacher, had written on it: "Goodbye Jonathan, we will always love you.''

This time, when the coffin was carried, it was adorned in carvings and wreaths, and watched by 250 mourners.

The service, with readings from Shakespeare and the song "A Wandering Minstrel'' from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, reflected his passion for theatre.

Last year, he was made assistant director of the Pendley Shakespeare Festival. And despite his love for travel, he had always returned home.

The main sermon was given by the Reverend Janet Ridgeway, an honorary assistant curate, and family friend for more than 30 years. She paid tribute to Jon's life. "There can be no denial of the pain and the enormous loss for Jonathan's family, as well as the pain and loss we all feel. But God's love is big enough to take the anger and the pain, the whys and the wherefores.''

There is growing anger among relatives at delays at bringing home the bodies of their loved ones. Andy Bowler, whose 27-year-old brother Neil died in the Sari Club, has been told he will have to wait at least three more weeks to get his brother's body home.

Even though Neil's body was identified by his rugby coach the day after the tragedy, his brother said the Foreign Office are insisting on DNA identification.

"They are not telling us anything," Mr Bowler said. "At one point I went to the gates of Downing Street and said I wasn't leaving until I got some answers. Baroness Amos [the Foreign Office minister] then phoned me on my mobile. But if that's what it takes to get information then I'll stand outside Downing Street every day."

He added: "The phone is ringing every five minutes with people wanting to know when the funeral is. We want to be able to grieve and I'm concerned that some people will already have started to move on before we can properly celebrate Neil's life. My mother is going through hell."

So far, three bodies have been repatriated while one has been buried locally. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "The scale of it is part of the problem. This is what happens in any comparable terrorist event. We are doing all we can to bring them back as soon as possible."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments