The funeral took place on Thursday of Lucy Parke – the little girl from Co Down who inspired others in her battle with a rare ageing condition.
There was a large crowd in Drumlee Presbyterian Church as the eight-year-old’s life was celebrated following her passing on New Year’s Day.
Lucy, who lived with her family in Ballyward, died from progeria, a fatal and very rare condition which causes young people to age prematurely. The average life expectancy is 14.
At the funeral, Rev Russell Edgar paid tribute to the eight-year-old who made so much of her time on earth.
Lucy’s mother Stephanie read a touching poem about her precious daughter and Keith Spiers, headmaster of Lucy’s school - Drumadonnell Primary School in Ballyroney – shared his memories of the P4 pupil and her life at the school.
In attendance at the funeral was Newry and Mourne councillor Jill Macauley, who is from Rathfriland and knows the family as her daughter Georgia is in the same P4 class as Lucy.
She commented: “The beauty of it – although she had a lot of health problems and special requirements – was that Lucy was able to go to a mainstream school. She was a very intelligent wee girl.”
The councillor said: “Her class is a very tight knit class. They all were very good to Lucy, very sympathetic to her needs.
“Because Lucy hadn’t been to school for nearly a year, they’ve got used to her not being in the classroom, but they will all certainly miss her. She was able to come into school in September for a visit.”
Through their daughters’ friendship, Mrs Macauley said she had become good friends with Lucy’s parents Stephanie and David.
She commented: “They’re a very strong family. They’ve a very strong faith and I think that’s why they’ve been able to cope as well as they have been.”