Duchess of York tells of her sadness over couple murdered on their Antigua honeymoon 

The Duchess of York joined 500 mourners at a memorial service for murdered newlyweds Ben and Catherine Mullany.

Sarah Ferguson has helped to set up a fund in memory of the couple who were shot on the last day of their honeymoon in Antigua.

She met and befriended the couple's parents when they were travelling to the Caribbean island last month.


Tribute: A photograph of tragic honeymoon couple Catherine and Ben Mullany is carried into Llandaff Cathedral by the Duchess of York and Ben's brother Adam

The Duchess was on holiday and offered her condolences to the families who were on their way to bring Catherine's body home.

Ben Mullany was pronounced dead shortly after he was flown back to the UK.

Today the Duchess told a packed church how postcards from the dead couple arrived at their parents' homes after they were shot telling how they were 'so in love and so happy'.

Trainee physiotherapist Mr Mullany and his GP wife, both 31, were gunned down in their chalet on the last day of their Caribbean honeymoon in July.

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Press address: The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, speaks to reporters at Llandaff Cathedral

Speaking before the service in Cardiff, the Duchess said: 'I think the whole world was taken by the tragedy of Ben and Catherine who were taken away at such a young age.

'I was very very touched as a mother and a parent.'

She added: 'How do you get over the fact that postcards arrived at the parents' home saying they were so much in love and so happy - arriving after they had died?'

She told how she had offered her condolences to Catherine's brother Richard Bowen and then suggested setting up a fund in memory of the murdered couple from Pontardawe, near Swansea.

Catherine and Ben Mullany

Gun victims: A wedding picture of Catherine and Ben Mullany released as family and friends gathered for their memorial service

Now the Duchess has given a £10,000 donation and agreed to be patron of The Mullany Fund charity helping to finance medical and physiotherapy students through college.

'The families of Ben and Catherine are utterly extraordinary,' she said.

'They have been so strong even when they have such a great hole in their hearts. They are so united as a family.'

She then read a poem in tribute to Ben and Catherine - 'He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven' by WB Yeats.

The Duchess told a packed Llandaff Cathedral: 'I'm just amazed at the courage shown today by the parents. Ben and Catherine leave behind a legacy.

'They hit the hearts of the nation and the world with such an extraordinary love story.'

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Two lives celebrated: Mourners gather after the memorial service

The couple's mothers lit candles in the cathedral in their memory, before Ben's brother Adam and Catherine's brother Richard paid tribute to the couple at the service which was led by Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan.

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Condolences: Neath MP Peter Hain

Adam Mullany said: 'Cath and Ben dreamt of a married life caring for others in the local community - Cath as a doctor and Ben as a physiotherapist.

'When they met you could tell straight away they were meant to be. I never saw a couple more in love. Their dreams were cut short by their murder on the last day of their honeymoon.'

He added: 'The Mullany Fund has been launched by the family and friends of Cath and Ben to support UK students wishing to study medicine or physiotherapy.

'While we will never replace Cath and Ben this fund will help others to fill their shoes and continue the work that they had started.

'Ben's values and optimistic outlook on life will carry on through everyone he ever met and he will be missed forever.'

Catherine's brother Richard told over 500 mourners: 'She will be remembered as a blissfully happy bride.

'She loved life and had a sense of fun and ready laugh. Ben was a wonderful husband to Catherine.'

Archbishop Dr Morgan said: 'The service is one of thanksgiving for lives that were so full of promise, vitality, energy and charm.

'And yet terrible sadness and at times anger that they have been cut down on the threshold of so much hope.'

Two men have been charged with the murders and two further men and three women have been charged with other offences related to the killings.

In a message in the order of service, the family said: 'Ben and Cath's family wish to express their profound thanks to all those who have sent messages of condolence and for the support that has been so generously provided.

'Particular thanks is due to the police whose expertise and professionalism has been outstanding.'


Patron: The Duchess of York arrives at Llandaff Cathedral

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