Poignant farewell picnic

2012-06-15 00:00

A BEAUTIFUL send-off for a special person, one that will remain in people’s hearts for a long time.

This was one of the comments shared by family, friends and the Underberg farming community as they said a final farewell to Graeme Anderson (29) yesterday.

Scores of mourners gathered under the open skies in a field at Anderson’s Briar Lea Farm to pay their respects to a son, brother, friend, employer and an active sportsman.

They sat around in picnic style. Colourful picnic baskets, blankets and camp chairs covered the field.

Some sang hymns, one of which was sung in Zulu by one of Anderson’s employees; others bowed their heads in sombre silence. Anderson’s dogs mingled with the mourners.

Said the Reverend Paul Mosdell of the local St Michael’s and All Angels church: “As we grieve, let us hang on in faith. As I was praying for him last week I knew all is well with him. He is with God.”

Anderson’s sister, Kerry Venniker, said the family was still devastated and hoped they would be able to carry on without Graeme.

“He was an amazing person,” Venniker said.

A family friend, Mandy Wood, told The Witness: “It was tough six weeks, but I think today there is joy. The service was beautiful. Exactly like he was. He was a special person and think wherever he is, he is delighted.”

Family spokesperson Dr Grant Lindsay said it had been a “wonderful” sendoff.

“It’s amazing how many people showed up. A proper tribute for a special man,” he added.

Anderson was declared brain-dead on Wednesday last week and the machines that were keeping him alive were switched off on Friday.

He had been put into a drug-induced coma for five weeks after he contracted rabies when he took in a stray dog.

Anderson was the first person in South Africa to receive treatment for rabies under the Milwaukee Protocol.

It involved keeping him in a coma to limit the damage to his brain and nervous system in the hope he could recover from the infection.

There have been three rabies deaths in the province this year.

Premier Zweli Mkhize’s office said it was moving swiftly to increase the capacity of the province to deal effectively with the outbreak of rabies.

A task team has been formed to intervene in the outbreak.

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