New Zealand fire victim triplets’ parents say thankyou for condolences

May 31, 2012

The New Zealand couple who lost their two-year-old triplets in Doha’ Villagio mall blaze have expressed deep gratitude for the people who offered them comfort and support.

In a letter to “the people of the State of Qatar and friends around the world”, Martin and Jane Weekes offered “a special thanks to all the people of Qatar, to His Highness the Heir Apparent Shaikh Tamim Al Thani who took the time to visit us at our home, to the brave emergency people, two of whom gave their lives to save others, our friends, the people who have called and texted, the hundreds of people who came to Aspire and gave us strength — Qatari and expat standing side by side together as one; so many nationalities bonded together makes a true community.”

Martin, a senior adviser at Qatar government agency who moved to Doha in 2007, and his wife said that their children, Lillie, Jackson and Willsher Weekes “were true Kiwi kids.”

“Born prematurely in New Zealand, after eight weeks in intensive care, they moved to their new home in Qatar.  In two short years, we travelled the world together, inseparable as a family. We went to Greece, UAE, Thailand, Bali, Hong Kong and of course again to New Zealand but always back to Doha, their family home,” they said.

“Everywhere Lillie, Jackson and Willsher went, people we did not know would come up to us and small crowds would gather. As parents this was at times amusing and at times quite scary (as we wanted to protect our children) but the triplets always made people so happy it seemed unfair not to share the happiness they brought with others.”

However, on Monday, a terrible tragedy happened in Doha, a tragedy that touched not just our family, but many others too.  “To those families, our hearts reach out,” the families said.

“We also want to acknowledge and thank the many people from around the world — most of whom we have never met — who have sent messages of condolence and strength. We thank Lillie, Jackson and Willsher for yet again bringing people together to be here in our time of need when they cannot be by our side though they are always in our hearts,” they said in the letter emailed to Gulf News.

“From our hearts and from the hearts of Lillie, Jackson and Willsher, we now want only one thing from this tragic day and that is to learn.  We want an understanding of what actually went wrong and how to ensure it never happens again. We ask that people allow the experts commissioned to investigate the fire be given the time to do their jobs and gather their facts and to truly understand the issues however long that may take. Yes, we all want answers and accountability, but we need to know what really happened and an extra week or even a month if needed to find out the truth will not hurt. It will not bring back our loved ones, but it will help to ensure this can never happen again. We also ask, because an event like this has never happened before in Qatar, that the Government seeks the support from international fire and emergency experts (who sadly have had to deal with similar tragedies overseas) to work alongside the team here to gather the facts.”

Seven girls, six boys, four teachers and two firefighters died in the fire on Monday morning.

However, the couple urged people to avoid speculations and allow the investigation commission carry out its work.

“It saddens us to read, to see and to hear misguided speculation and innuendo about the fire in Villagio and it saddens us that it is being misused to create blame and reflect badly on our adopted home in Qatar. We hope people will refrain from criticizing the growth and ambition of this friendly country that we have called home for five years,” he said. “We ask for patience and to allow the experts the time they need to find and share their answers. Through knowledge, we will make progress. This process should not be about blame regardless of the hurt we all may feel now.  This must be about learning so that no person need feel this pain again,” they said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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