Hundreds expected at memorial service
Sat, 01 Sep 2012 12:19p.m.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend a memorial service in Christchurch today for Pike River miner Ben Rockhouse, whose family had been determined to wait until his remains were returned home.
It is one of the final memorial services for the 29 men killed in a blast in the underground West Coast coalmine almost two years ago.
Ben's brother, Daniel, managed to escape and guided the only other survivor, Russell Smith, about 1.5km along the mine's tunnel to safety.
The men's bodies remain entombed in the mine and the new owner, state-owned enterprise Solid Energy, announced several months ago that recovery was extremely unlikely.
Ben's father, Neville Rockhouse, said the family wanted to move on.
"We have acknowledged with Solid Energy's announcement that it's time to let Ben's friends say goodbye to him in an appropriate way and to help them to move on with their lives," he told Fairfax Media.
They also wanted to thank the thousands of people around the world for their huge support since the tragedy, he said.
The service will be held at Ben's former school, Avonhead Primary School in Christchurch, with hundreds expected to attend, including friends returning from overseas.
Neville Rockhouse said the family chose September 1 because it symbolised new growth and hope as the first day of spring.
"This is not like a funeral, it's a celebration of his life. A funeral will happen when and if we get his remains back."
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