THE Far North Coast communities who assisted the Sherry family following the tragic drowning of Joseph and Carole Sherry at South Ballina two weeks ago were acknowledged in a moving Sydney service yesterday.
“May they be richly blessed for their service and acts of kindness and compassion,” the prayer read.
The family’s former parish in Greystanes, near Parramatta, was filled to overflowing as a brave Elise Sherry, 14, and her brother Nicholas, 9, led the eulogy, recounting stories of their parents’ passion for life.
Surrounded by family and friends, they spoke of their ‘beautiful mother’ who always left the house dressed ‘immaculately’, and their ‘perfectionist’ dad who dedicated himself to his family, his garden and his car – in that order.
Elise, who has assumed a maturity beyond her years, spoke eloquently of how her dad, a chef, had passed on his passion for food to her, and how he bought her and Nicholas trail bikes, even though it meant them ‘tearing up his perfect lawn’.
Family friend Jim Finucane talked of the Sherry’s inspirational devotion to their children and each other, and how they met every challenge as a family.
“To have witnessed the love and dedication of this family to each other was indeed a privilege,” he said.
Mr and Mrs Sherry drowned in tragic circumstances at South Ballina Beach two weeks ago near where they had been holidaying at a caravan park.
Mrs Sherry had gone to the aid of her two youngest children, Elise and Nicholas, in deceptively treacherous conditions on the unpatrolled beach and was swept out to sea.
Her husband attempted in vain to save his wife but also drowned.
After raising the alarm Elise, Nicholas and their disabled older sister Monique, 17, witnessed the tragedy unfold from the beach.
Lead celebrant Father Rod Barry described it as the supreme sacrifice, epitomising the Sherry’s devotion and dedication to their children.
“There is no greater sacrifice than to lay down one’s life for another,” he told the congregation.
About 700 mourners filled the pews, aisles and doorways at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church and seven priests officiated – reflecting the Sherry’s depth of faith and service to their church and community.
The celebrants spoke of their joy sharing the sacraments of marriage, baptism and communion with the Sherry family – and their sadness presiding over yesterday’s service.
Hannah’s Foundation executive officer, Katherine Plint, who is organising the Sherry Orphan Family Appeal, was at the service to support the Sherry children.
Mrs Plint conveyed the Sherry family’s deepest gratitude to everyone involved in the rescue attempt at South Ballina, and to everyone won had donated to the appeal.
Mrs Plint said she had been too busy to check the fundraiser account yesterday, but said it was well into six figures at close of banking on Friday.
“After the funeral expenses, the money will go into a trust fund for the Sherry children’s education,” she said.
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