Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Thursday, April 23, 2015


            Let us wish Arjen Ryder a happy 55th birthday this year. Although he died on MH17 on July 17, 2014, we will not forget how he lived on this earth and we know he is in heaven now. In loving memory of him, we will make him one of the 26 Christian Martyrs of Unit 1012 and we will remember her every year on April 23 and July 17. Let us remember how he lived on this earth and not how he died.

Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.
- Psalm 116:15 (NKJV)

Arjen Ryder, one of the victims on board flight MH17. 

A cycling enthusiast, Arjen Ryder is pictured here riding a vintage bicycle in France just days before he was killed aboard MH17.

Mr Arjen Ryder

August 26, 2014
Senator BACK (Western Australia) (19:18): It is with a degree of grief that I rise to honour the memory of Mr Arjen Ryder and his wife, Yvonne, who were so tragically taken when flight MH17 was shot out of the sky on 18 July. Arjen was a student of mine at the Muresk Institute of Agriculture in Western Australia in 1980 and 1981. He joined the Department of Agriculture in 1983 and had a stellar career in the department serving the agricultural and rural communities of Western Australia over many years. It is my understanding that he and his wife, Yvonne—who in fact had been a teacher at the John Calvin School in Albany for many, many years—had taken off for Europe on a seven-week holiday at the conclusion of his working life—that he was due to retire. Perversely, the time at which the group was meeting in Albany to plan a function to honour him and his contribution to agriculture in the district was the very time at which they heard the information that MH17 had been so tragically removed from the sky.

I join and associate myself, as others have in the chamber, with the motions moved today with regard to all of those 38 people based here in Australia—Australian citizens, students or those who resided in this country. It was an absolute tragedy, and for this man particularly, a man who gave his life to the agricultural communities of our state, a person who specialised in salinity—which, as you would know, Acting Deputy President Williams, is a particularly devastating condition in Western Australia. Arjen worked for his entire career in that area. He was a member of the WA Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Catchment Hydrology Group. He contributed significantly to our knowledge of groundwater trends and salinity management. Arjen worked throughout the wheat belt areas right down to the south coast at Albany in the field of salinity, geophysics and salt content in the soils. He went to Carnarvon after the floods some four years ago, in 2010-11. He worked on the Carnarvon flood recovery program. Most recently he was up in the Ord, on Ord Stage 2 in Kununurra, working again in the field of groundwater monitoring and sampling.

In addition to his work with salinity, Arjen worked in salt land management, in perennial pasture management and development, particularly lucerne, and in liming of soils to try to improve their soil fertilities. He was a man who had, in his quiet way, an incredible influence on his community, as indeed I understand his wife had on the community of children, parents and others at the John Calvin School. They were residents of the Albany area for 25 years.

Along with so many other families, the Ryder family were quoted during one of the memorials for them, and I would like to quote their words, because I think they speak volumes for the character of the family and extended beyond. 'We are not seeking retribution against those responsible for this tragedy,' they said. 'Our prayer is for peace in Ukraine through contrite hearts and minds, not rhetoric which incites more violence.' In their generosity, they went on to thank the Australian government, the Governor-General and the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Bishop who, with our ambassador to the UN and his excellent staff in the Australian mission to the UN, were able in such a short space of time not only to get a resolution up in the security council, but also to have it unanimously voted on, including by all five permanent members of the Security Council.

The Ryder family particularly wanted to mention those in the Australian Federal Police and the forensic personnel. I have to say on a slightly lighter note for that family at least, the remains were identified in Holland and they will come back to Western Australia. They also commented on the excellent work undertaken by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and also the executives, management and staff of Malaysia Airlines, who of course themselves lost 15 staff in that tragic event. A thousand people attended the memorial in Albany, and it is a just reward for the memory of two lives that affected so many people in their district. As a person associated with agriculture, Arjen, I am proud to say, had been a student at an institution at which I taught and he made a fine contribution to our state and our country.

By Dr. Chris Back, Liberal Senator for Western Australia

The Albany Centre

Scholarship in memory of Arjen Ryder

Donation form

Arjen Ryder
Mr Arjen Ryder, 54, and his wife Yvonne, 53, were two of the West Australians who lost their lives on flight MH17 in the Ukraine plane disaster.
The Albany couple were returning from a seven-week holiday in France and Holland. They leave behind three children Robyn, 31, Drew, 27, and Tiffany, 24.
Arjen was healthy, active and sporty and enjoyed running cycling, playing soccer and sailing. Arjen was a recent member of the Albany Cycling Club. Both Arjen and Yvonne were strong Christians and members of the Free Reformed Church. The couple had been residents of the Albany area for 25 years.


Arjen Ryder came into agriculture as a graduate of Muresk. He worked as senior technical officer at the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) where he worked closely with farmers to rehabilitate saline land across vast tracks of WA’s south coast.
Arjen co-authored several books and published research papers on salinity. He was due to return to Albany to receive his 30 years of service award. Yvonne was a special needs teacher at John Calvin School for more than 10 years.


Following the memorial service in July it was clear that a lot of people, friends, co-workers, farmers, and others in the industry and community who were touched by Arjen and the MH17 event were keen to express their feelings towards something positive.
As a result the family have sought our assistance in setting up an Arjen Ryder Memorial Scholarship for students studying agriculture and with practical application in the region. The scholarship will be awarded to a student living in the Albany region who is studying at the UWA Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management. The scholarship will reflect Arjen’s expertise in soil biology, particularly dryland salinity.

Making a donation

Family, friends, colleagues and community are invited to make a donation to the Scholarship in Memory of Arjen Ryder by online giving (by selecting student support then the scholarship name) or by completing a donation form. All donations to UWA are tax-deductible, and 100 per cent of the donations will be used for the purpose for which they are intended. No administration costs are deducted.

Thank you

With thanks to the following generous donors:

Arjen and Yvonne Ryder from Kalgan, near Albany in Western Australia. Both Arjen and Yvonne were on flight MH17 that was shot down over the Ukraine. [PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/agriculture-expert-arjen-ryder-and-wife-yvonne-among-seven-western-australian-victims-of-mh17-disaster/story-fnii5thm-1226994076120?nk=7f8499e02d5163cfd33dff4a528d35d4]
One of his closest colleagues, Ruhi Ferdowsian, who worked alongside Mr Ryder at the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) for almost 40 years and co-authored several books and research papers on salinity, said the news was “devastating”.

Mr Ryder, 54, was due to return to work at the department on Monday when he was to receive a special award for 30 years of service as a senior technical officer.

The couple leave behind three children.

“I’m shocked. I loved ‘Arj’. He was loved by everyone in the department,” Mr Ferdowsian said.

“The crime that some people do and the result of that — taking the lives of innocent people — is just unbelievable.

“He was healthy, very active, sporty. He loved canoeing, he loved sailing. He was such a gem — a beautiful person. I miss him dearly.

“He made a lot of difference because salinity is a big issue. I was a senior resource officer and Arj was a senior technical officer working with me all these years since 1985. He was such a beautiful person. A lovely smile comes to mind. He was very approachable.

“He was a very close friend and a close mate. We loved working with each other. Farmers loved him and thousands of farmers in WA know him. He was very dedicated to his work.

“On field trips, we would stand by the lights of the truck and continue working hours after sunset. He was the kind of person who would put a lot of hours into his work without expecting anything in return. He was dedicated. He was cheerful. He was knowledgeable. He was just a beautiful person.”

Yvonne and Arjen Ryder, who were on board flight MH17. Pictured here in France during their holiday: "Arrived safely at Toul in France we on the boat enjoying a drink. After a long delay with train strikes....:-)"
The three children of West Australian couple Arjen and Yvonne Ryder say their parents "are in a better place now".

The couple were on flight MH17 and were returning from a seven-week holiday in France and Holland.

"They will be sorely missed as a mum and dad and as grandparents by the wider community and our extended family," their son said in a statement.

"Mum and Dad, Arj and Yvonne, were extremely generous, lived life to the full and were active in our church and community.

"Both were strong Christians who lived by their faith in everything they did."

WA MH17 victims Arjen and Yvonne Ryder's children read statement on behalf of their family.

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