Wreckage debris and mementos left by local residents lie at
the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the
village of Grabovo, Donetsk region. REUTERS/Sergei
Rob Ayley, who died when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was
shot down over Ukraine, has been farewelled at a memorial
service in Wellington today.
The private service was held at St John's Anglican Church in
Johnsonville -- the same church where Mr Ayley regularly
The church was packed with friends, family and a rottweiler,
one mourner said after the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked those who attended to
give a gold coin donation to Life Flight Trust
"He gave to this charity despite having no money as they
braved their way passed (sic) his Rottweilers to ask for a
donation some years ago," the order of service said.
"He gave regularly ever since."
The family also thanked their friends for their "phenomenal
support" since the crash.
The 29-year-old Otaki man was travelling home on the
ill-fated MH17 in which 298 people died when it was shot down
on July 17.
Mr Ayley had been on a month-long trip to Europe looking at
kennels with plans to import rottweilers.
Earlier today the family said the service would be a chance
to gather with friends and family to celebrate Rob's life.
"The service will be held at the church where we have
worshipped as a family for 17 years," the statement said.
"Rob played drums there on a Sunday over time with bright
blue hair, dreds, a cheeky smile and at times a teenage
He thought nothing of dropping his drum sticks at quiet
poignant moments in the services but brought a new energy to
The statement went on to say that Rob was a vibrant young man
who "had a great sense of family...so it was a great joy to
him that he fathered 2 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."
Mr Ayley's family said his death was no more tragic than that
of anyone who died.
"Death is always a separation from the ones we love and
sadness always follows.
"The circumstances of Rob's death are unique as Rob was
unique but beneath it all he was a happy man who loved life
and did what he could to make others happy too."
The family asked for people to remember Mr Ayley as an
"ordinary chap who ultimately achieved some amazing things
which shows we should never assume someone's abilities but
let them dream dreams and some may come true".
A trust fund has been set up at Westpac Bank, with donations
going to the future of Rob's two little boys.