Wednesday, May 13, 2009

AU Fires Claim Animals Lovers & Their Animals

Funeral honours fire victims' love of animals
Geoff Strong
May 13, 2009

Horse-drawn hearses marked Sue Evans' and Robert O'Sullivan's kindness to animals. Photo: Pat Scala

There was always room for animals in the lives of Sue Evans and Robert O'Sullivan. Family friend Karen Crabtree reminisced: "They loved all species, equine, canine, reptile or human."

Yesterday, while friends of the human kind gathered to remember the couple killed in the February 7 fires, four of the equine variety delivered their remains to the tiny Church of St Margaret's in Eltham.

Ms Evans and Mr O'Sullivan were among five people who died when the Black Saturday inferno roared over a ridge and across their Strathewen property about 6pm. It also claimed the lives of Ms Evans' son Jon LeGassick and his friends Haydn McMahon and Kaya Mehmedoff.

At yesterday's funeral, to honour the couple's love of animals, their bodies were taken to and from the church in a pair of 19th century horse-drawn hearses.

The couple's own horses all perished in the fire, along with the family's dogs and chickens.

Ms Evans' brother Paul said two of the horses were found and buried by Grocon, the company that has volunteered to clear all the bushfire-destroyed properties.

The couple had bought their 16 hectares high in the Strathewen hills, near the boundary of the Kinglake National Park about four years ago. They did not just care about animals in the abstract, they nursed injured wildlife and ran a pet shop in Diamond Valley.

Through tears, Ms Evans' mother, Vicky, described her daughter as a compassionate person with a love for family, friends and animals.

Mr O'Sullivan's sister Leonie Moody described a shy young man who left his native Perth to make a home in Melbourne.

"But I find I have spent more intense time with my brother over the last three months, than during his life," she said. "The main consolation I have is that I know he would have been a happy man before his death."

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