Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Lanterns 'light the way home'

Couple gather on beach with friends to remember their triplets lost in Doha mall fire.

Jane and Martin Weekes walked on to the beach carrying three colourful lanterns, one for each of their triplets Lillie, Willsher and Jackson.

"It shows them the way home. They know we're here," Mr Weekes said as he tried to light the pink, blue and purple lights.

The rain cleared briefly as the couple stood with family and friends on Cheltenham Beach at dusk yesterday. Mr Weekes held his pregnant wife in his arms as they remembered their 2-year-old triplets killed a year ago in a Doha mall fire that also claimed the lives of 16 other people.

Mrs Weekes, who is due to give birth to twins in August, tried without luck to pull coats around her swollen belly before making the short journey to the beach 50 metres from their new home in Devonport.

Every day the couple think about Willsher, Lillie and Jackson but the anniversary of their deaths was still hard, even when they had the impending birth of their new children to look forward to, Mr Weekes said.

"It's been really difficult because for Jane, well for both of us, you get so used to bad news," he said. "Whilst we're really happy you just worry every time that something's going to go wrong.

"You just don't get to fully enjoy yourself because you just don't know what's around the corner.

"It's self-protection. You have yourself prepared just in case something goes wrong."

The squally weather abated briefly while Mr and Mrs Weekes stood with their loved ones on the beach at sunset.

Two of the lanterns were eventually lit and made small journeys before they were extinguished. The wind was too much for the blue lantern to ignite.

Mr Weekes said they felt no closer to finding answers behind the fire that swept through the Villaggio Mall, killing six adults and 13 children.

A memorial was planned for overnight at Aspire Park next to the mall in Doha, where a moment's silence was planned before 19 balloons were to be released.

The blaze has been blamed on an electrical fault, and a court verdict into who was responsible is expected next month.

"We're no further on after a year in terms of knowing what really happened or finding anyone accountable for it," Mr Weekes said.

- APNZ

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