From tears to love

IT'S going to be a tough but memorable Christmas for Geoff and Doreen Rhodes.

The couple lost their son Gavin, daughter-in-law Phoumalaysy (Lea) and grandchildren Jadesuda (Jade) and Manfred in a plane crash in southern Laos two months ago.

The family of four from Bonnyrigg Heights were among six Australians on board the Lao Airlines flight, travelling from Vientiane to Pakse when it crashed into the Mekong River as it was about to land.

Despite the devastating incident, Gavin's family have remained strong — reminiscing the good times they shared with their loved ones.

"It's tough but our family and friends are giving us a lot of love and support so that helps," Mrs Rhodes said.

A funeral for Gavin, 39, Lea, 35, Jade, 3 and Manfred, 17 months, on November 22 at St Joseph's Catholic Church, Moorebank, was attended by 650 people.

"The outpouring of love has been astronomical," Mrs Rhodes said.

Gavin's sister, Melissa Rhodes-Smith, said her family desperately wanted to see something positive come out of the tragedy.

"We have partnered with ChildFund Australia and set up a donation page to raise funds for children in Laos," she said.

"We chose this because it was one close to Gavin and Lea's hearts. The money raised will go towards providing children with a brighter future."

Also paying tribute was Bonnyrigg Heights Early Learning Centre. Jade had been going there since January.

The centre held a "Pink Day" for Jade on Friday to continue the legacy of the Rhodes family and raise funds to support children in Laos.

The centre's director Lipena Mahe said she was hoping to raise over $1000 on the day.

"Jade's favourite colour was pink and she also loved dress-ups so we had a dress-up station for the young ones," she said.

"All of Fairfield Council's Early Learning Centre's took part so hopefully we raise a lot of money."

Nearly $31,000 has been donated to the Rhodes family's fund-raiser.

To make a donation, visit

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