MH17 crash victim honoured
DAVID UNWIN/Fairfax NZ
Malaysian Airlines crash victim Rob Ayley has been honoured with a posthumous diploma from Massey University.
Ayley, 29, of Otaki, was flying home on flight MH17 when the plane was shot down over eastern Ukraine on July 17, killing all 298 people on board.
He was 18 months into a degree in engineering at Massey's Palmerston North campus and through distance learning.
The university awarded Ayley with a diploma in science and technology in engineering studies at the graduation ceremony this morning.
His parents Wendie and Jonn Ayley accepted the diploma on his behalf.
"If it hadn't been for MH17 there's every chance he would've achieved his degree and who knows what he would've gone on to do," mother Wendie said.
"Sadly today we're just acknowledging the potential that was there, the things that could've been achieved."
The main reason for accepting the diploma was to inspire Ayley's sons Seth, 4, and Taylor, 2, when they grew up, she said.
"Rob won't be around when his boys grow up but we're hoping by having this to share with them we can show them that yes you struggle when you're young, yeah it all feels too hard and you just want to go out and kick a ball around and not bother with education but actually their dad had come to realise it was the way to a future."
Wendie said Ayley was a great believer that if you wanted to do something, you should do it.
"If he'd made it to degree he would've punched the air and said take that, you can do it."
Ayley had a combination of ADHD and Asperger's syndrome, which had left him feeling "unintelligent" and "unteachable" as a child, she said.
"We didn't even know he was thinking of doing it, he just turned up one weekend and said I'm going to university. At 27 to turn around and apply for a place at Massey and be taken seriously and be given the opportunity was huge.
"He would never ever have thought he would end up doing a tertiary degree."
Father Jonn said they were enormously proud of him but it had been a long, hard four months since Ayley's death.
"It's going to be another long road really with the boys and trying to settle the boys," he said.
"It was an extraordinary event, a very very tragic event, it was essentially a massacre of innocent people and there's a lot of families around the world that will be changed forever," Wendie said.
- Manawatu Standard