ACT News

Who was MH17 Canberra victim Liliane Derden? Friend tells of mother who "lived for her kids"

Friends and family have come across borders to mourn adopted Canberran Liliane Derden, who met her best friend at work in the public service after moving from Belgium in her early 20s.

She grew up with eight brothers and sisters in Belgium. One is now on her way from New Zealand to gather with the rest of the family at Ms Derden's North Canberra home.

Canberran Liliane Derden.
Canberran Liliane Derden. 

Ms Derden's daughter Chelsea returned home separately on Sunday after travelling in Europe.

Friends say Ms Derden, a mother of two and a new grandmother, was humble and a "homebody" who fitted quickly into her community in North Canberra over the past year after living for a long time in Ainslie.

Friend and colleague Carly Taylor said the two started as desk buddies at the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), a peak body for medical research.

"Our desks were close when we worked together until we got to the point where I called her my best friend and she called me the same," Ms Taylor said.

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Ms Taylor said Ms Derden was "the best person in the world", and was reduced to silence after saying "I will miss her a lot".

After Ms Derden moved to Australia she had two daughters. One has been living with her and the other lives in Perth.

She had been with her partner, CJ, for about 20 years. They were ripped apart on Friday morning, when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine. 

"She had just been over to Belgium to visit her brothers and sisters and was on her way back to Perth to see her granddaughter," Ms Taylor said.

Ms Derden had been a grandmother only since last December and was excited about the next "step in her journey – she couldn’t wait to be part of [it]".

"Seriously, 'Lil' would do anything for anyone. If I needed my house clean she would clean my house, if I was moving house she would move house for me, if I was sick she would cook me soup."

Ms Taylor said Ms Derden's daughters had been close to their mother and were devastated by the news. They were "the loves of her life ... they were her world".

The community has rallied around the family.

"They have been so lovely, the shops down here near her house have been donating food and everybody’s asking how they can help," Ms Taylor said.

Ms Derden had worked at the NHMRC for seven years, and worked at Calvary Hospital before that, Ms Taylor said.