Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 14:52 UK

Murdered honeymoon pair's funeral

Ben and Catherine Mullany

The Duchess of York has joined mourners at the funeral service for a couple murdered on their Caribbean honeymoon.

Catherine and Ben Mullany, both 31 and from Pontardawe, Swansea Valley, were shot in July at an Antiguan hotel.

Up to 900 people attended the service at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff, conducted by the Archbishop of Wales and the rector who married the couple.

The duchess, who gave a reading, said she had been "touched" after meeting members of their families by chance.

She read WB Yeats's poem He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven and spoke during the service about why she agreed to be patron of the Mullany Fund, a memorial charity set up by the families of the couple to help future medical and physiotherapy students.

She is also donating 10,000 from the Sarah Ferguson Foundation to the Mullanys' charity.

Sarah Ferguson explained that she became involved in the fund after meeting the couple's relatives on a plane to Antigua as she took her own daughters on holiday.

Sarah Ferguson: 'As a mum and a parent I was so touched'

"They [the couple's families] got postcards from Ben and Catherine after they had died," she said.

"I think any mother getting a postcard, they were so in love and so happy, it must have been very difficult.

"The nation was so touched by it and I just felt they were taken away at such a young age," she said.

"It was the last day of their honeymoon. It was such an extraordinary story.

"As a mum and a parent I was so touched and I thought maybe we could find a way of helping the parents live on without their children."

Ben Mullany's brother Adam was among those to pay tribute to the newlyweds during the service.

He said: "Ben was my brother and best friend. I spent my whole life trying to be as much like him as possible.

"He never lost track of the most important thing in life - to enjoy it.

"I always wanted a sister and thanks to Ben I got one.

In Cath Ben found a love that stopped him in his tracks
A friend's tribute to the couple

"I was with Ben the night he met Cath. I could tell straight away it was meant to be.

"I have no idea how Ben managed to woo Cath. He threw some awful dance moves. Luckily Cath managed to look past that."

Nicholas, one of Mr Mullany's oldest friends, said his ability to make friends wherever he went was "astonishing".

"Nothing could quench Ben's zeal for life," he said. "One lesson we can all take from Ben is about friendship, that there is no limit to the amount of friends one can make."

On the Mullanys' relationship he said: "In Cath Ben found a love that stopped him in his tracks. He was a gypsy no longer."

'Happy bride'

Another lifelong friend called Keith described Ben as "a rare one that just got better and better".

He said that Ben was a combination of three things - Judith Chalmers, George Clooney and a boomerang. He said he had travelled all over the world and had many women trying to pin him down to a relationship.

"But like a boomerang he always came back," he said.

Richard Bowen, Catherine's brother, talked of a sister who even as a child showed great empathy for those in pain.

"Cath will be remembered by many as a very happy bride," he said.

Fund logo
A logo has been created for the fund which also has a website

"Colleagues and patients remember a caring, patient and conscientious young woman."

He said of Catherine and Ben's relationship: "She had found someone unaffected, warm, considerate. From a brother's point of view, he was a wonderful husband for her."

The Archbishop of Wales, the Most Reverend Barry Morgan, and the Reverend Martyn Perry, rector of Cilybebyll, who married the couple, conducted the service.

Two candles were lit for the couple before the archbishop's opening prayer and John Newton's hymn Amazing Grace was sung.

A male voice choir also sang the Welsh love song Myfanwy.

Cricketer Sir Viv Richards sent a tribute to the couple, which was read out during the service.

It said: "On behalf of the people of Antigua I would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of Catherine and Ben.

"As many of you know, I spent many years playing cricket for Glamorgan and have a strong affinity for Wales and the Welsh people."

He added he would be supporting the Mullany Fund.

After the service, Det Chief Insp Danny Richards conveyed a message of thanks from the couple's parents to all who had attended the service and for the support they had received from "family, friends and the wider community".

The couple were married on 12 July and travelled to Antigua for their honeymoon.

Mr Mullany, a trainee physiotherapist, and his wife, a doctor, were shot in their holiday bungalow at the Cocos Hotel and Resort 27 July, the final day of their two-week holiday.

Mrs Mullany died at the scene and her husband died a week later after he was flown home to south Wales in a coma.

The couple, who met more than three years ago, were buried last month in a private ceremony believed to be at the church where they were married, St John the Evangelist in Cilybebyll, near their home.

Keniel Martin, 20, and a youth aged 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, face charges of murder, robbery and receiving stolen goods.

Two women who have been bailed, face charges of receiving stolen property and perverting the course of justice.

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