Brother grieves for theloss of drowned siblings
By BREE PRICE
TEARS glisten in the corners of Martin Van Kerkvoort's brown eyes as the 75-year-old remembers his brother and sister who drowned at Lennox Head on Wednesday.
Peter Kirkwood, 72, of Cleveland, outside Brisbane, and 80-yearold Catharina Ilgen, who was visiting from the family's native Netherlands, were swimming in front of the Lennox Head Surf Club about 1pm when they were caught in a strong rip. The beach was not patrolled.
"Catharina was a really fun person, she loved a joke of any kind. She was always laughing," said Mr Van Kerkvoort, of Arundel in Queensland.
"Peter and I spoke more than once a week and if anything happened we could depend on each other. I'm go- ing to miss that."
Mr Van Kerkvoort approached The Northern Star on Thursday, praising the paper's coverage of the tragedy.
"I bought 10 papers and I intend to give all the siblings one paper."
He said Catharina, known as Ien to her family, travelled to Australia to join recently retired Peter on a caravan holiday throughout Southern Queensland and the Far North Coast.
Peter changed his Dutch surname to Kirkwood after moving to Australia in 1953.
"This was Ien's fourth trip to Australia. She loved the sun, the surf, the sand," Mr Van Kerkvoort said.
"She was quite a good swimmer.
"They were staying at the Lake Ainsworth Caravan Park and had been there two days.
"During the last three weeks of their holiday they rang me every day. They had a lovely time."
Peter's former wife Marjorie Kirkwood said she had remained close with Peter and knew he had drowned before Martin told her.
"Peter rang me the night before he died to say he was at Lennox Head and Ien was loving the water," the 69year-old resident of Tinonee, near Taree, said.
"When I saw the drownings on the TV, I felt it was them.
"I just knew it was Peter and Ien and I felt sorry for myself and their children and Martin, but they were doing what they loved doing."
Lifesaving facilities in the Ballina Shire are currently under review, with a safety report expected to be completed by Surf Life Saving NSW in five weeks.
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