Son calls for calm in conflict that took parents
THE son of Toowoomba MH17 crash victims Dr Roger and Dr Jill Guard hopes his humble call for calm will in some way influence the conflict which claimed his parents' lives.
Paul Guard made the call after a touching ceremony held in honour of the two highly respected and loved Toowoomba community members this afternoon.
The Guards' children Paul Guard, Amanda Koopman and David Guard bravely thanked and farewelled their parents in front of a packed Empire Theatre.
Ms Koopman said while she knew her parents would be sad they could no longer be a part of their lives, they could rest knowing they had given their children everything they possibly could have.
"You would just want us to be happy and we will be," she said.
Roger and Jill's siblings shared memories of their respective family member's early lives.
Dr Carol Cox quoted an Eskimo proverb in paying tribute to Jill.
"Perhaps they're not stars, but rather openings in the heavens, where the love of our lost ones pours through," Dr Cox said.
"We all miss you Jill."
Roger's determination to keep the same pair of worn out running shoes when competing in long distance events drew laughs from the crowd when mentioned by friend and fellow Toowoomba Roadrunners member Luke Johnson.
Compere Peter Rookas perhaps summed up the quality of the Guard children's dedications when he concluded the ceremony.
"Worry not ladies and gentlemen," Mr Rookas said.
"Roger and Jill Guard will live on through their children."
Paul Guard said it was important to his family that something positive came out of the tragedy.
He said his family had daily government updates about developments in the European conflict and how the repatriation process would proceed.
"We will be patient, we know that process will take a long time," Paul said.
"As difficult as it is, we will just look forward to a time where we can celebrate their lives again in a more private fashion."
He said the apparent escalation in rhetoric and violence in the Ukraine was deplorable.
"That's why I felt strongly about saying something.
"I hope my words might have been heard in the halls of power but maybe also in the Ukraine and Russia just imploring people who are fighting there to stop the violence and talk to each other about other potential solutions to the conflict."
TODAY 2.45PM: Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio says doctors Jill and Roger Guard touched many lives in Toowoomba and their legacy will "never be forgotten"
Cr Antonio spoke at a community memorial service in Toowoomba for the victims of the MH17 disaster.
He told everyone around the world who had lost someone in the tragedy, "we stand with you, we support you".
Cr Antonio passed on a message of condolence from PM Tony Abbott.
The Guards died along with 36 fellow Australians when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over the Ukraine last month.
They were respected members of Toowoomba's medical fraternity, with many of their colleagues in attendance at a MH17 memorial service at the Empire Theatre in Toowoomba.
Roger was director of pathology at the Toowoomba Hospital.
TODAY 2.20PM: Thousands have packed the Empire Theatre in Toowoomba for a memorial service for doctors Jill and Roger Guard, who died in the MH17 disaster.
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio will start the service at 2.30pm before friends and family of Jill and Roger reflect on the lives of the two highly respected members of Toowoomba's medical fraternity.
The service will also honour the 36 other Australians who died in the Ukraine disaster.
The afternoon will include music by the Toowoomba Choral Society and Toowoomba Grammar String Quartet.
TODAY 9AM: The Empire Theatre is expected to be filled this afternoon as the community celebrates the lives of MH17 crash victims Drs Roger and Jill Guard.
Their contribution to the community has been detailed across the Toowoomba region and Australia in the weeks since their Malaysian Airlines flight was shot down.
The Guards as well as the 36 fellow Australians who died in the Ukraine disaster will be the focus of the service.
Mayor Paul Antonio said Toowoomba Regional Council was working with the Guard family to remember all those who had been affected, but especially Roger and Jill Guard.
"There has been a deep community response to this terrible tragedy and it's important that we come together to express our grief and offer support and sympathy for the Guard family," Cr Antonio said.
"It's difficult to comprehend that an incident of this nature on the other side of the world can have such a profound effect on our peaceful city of Toowoomba."
The service will begin at 2.30pm.
Due to parking restrictions, a free shuttle service will be offered for attendees.
Buses will leave from Toowoomba Grammar School where parking will be available through the Margaret St entrance.
Shuttles will leave from the school's internal bus stop at 1.30pm and 2.00pm and will return at the end of the event, scheduled for 4pm.
- Empire Theatre
- 2.30pm today
- Free shuttle service running from Toowoomba Grammar School at 1.30pm and 2pm