Milli Lovell's private farewell

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This morning Milli Lovell planned to take a box containing the ashes of her late husband Derek and head for a place she knows he loved for 25 years.

Milli Lovell
Milli Lovell

Deep in rural Waikato is a large pond and a duck-shooting hut, accessible only by boat. Here Milli will scatter Derek’s ashes a year after an explosion ripped through the blazing Icepak Coolstore at Tamahere, reported the Herald on Sunday.

It was a day that Tamahere residents will never forget, a day when mothers, fathers, doctors and nurses left their kids at a nearby school pumpkin festival and came running, reported the paper.

Derek Lovell died on the operating table from horrific burns. Seven others were injured – some are still recovering and have yet to return to work.

A year later Milli Lovell, who dressed up in a broad-brimmed hat for her husband’s funeral, is struggling to come to terms with the loss of Derek. His death was “worse than anyone could ever imagine …

“I don’t want to lie and say that things are okay because it’s not. The truth is too horrible.”

Tomorrow Milli and her 3-year-old daughter will go to the pond – which Derek built from a swamp with the help of a digger – with Derek’s best friend and his mother. “We will go in by boat and it will be a very special, very private affair. Derek’s funeral was owned by everyone else and I’ve kept the scattering of the ashes for myself.”

Milli, who knew her husband for 10 years, expects tomorrow to be emotional.

“I will probably be bawling my eyes out. I had a love that most people don’t get to experience. I spent my whole life looking for Derek and I finally found him and bugger, I’ve lost him. But at least I know my dream had come true.”

Since her husband’s death, Milli has decided to take up duck shooting and is now practising her shooting skills. She hopes to use the “beautiful hut” he built at the pond and that their daughter will eventually learn the skill.

“The other duck hut owners have been very welcoming to me,” she said. “I have the most incredible support from them.”

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