THE parents of road accident victim Stephen Barlow have paid a glowing tribute to their loving son.
"Stephen got on with everyone he met and we as parents were extremely proud of the young man he had grown into," said Mervyn and Doreen Barlow.
Hundreds of mourners attended Stephen's funeral yesterday (Monday) after he was tragically killed in a car crash last week. He was just 18 years old.
Stephen died after his car struck a telegraph pole on the Huntly Road at around 9.40pm last Wednesday.
Two other female passengers in the car were injured, one of them seriously, although their injuries are not life threatening.
Speaking to the Leader from their Iveagh Drive home Stephen's parents described their son as a "happy teenager who always had a smile on his face".
"He was never a problem to us and we were very proud of him," said Doreen.
"Stephen was a typical young fella with many friends who really enjoyed life.
"He was not gifted academically but really enjoyed practical work and we let him go where he was happiest."
And it was this love for practical work that took him into his first job at McAvoy's Construction.
"He worked along with me at McAvoy's and I loved working with my son," said Mervyn.
"Stephen then moved to A-One Tyres and he was very happy there indeed. My proudest memory of him was when he passed his driving test at the first attempt - there was a lot of work put in leading up to that test."
Last Wednesday night the Barlows received a visit to their home which is every parent's worst nightmare.
"A policewoman arrived at the door and when I saw her standing there I knew something was badly wrong," said Doreen.
"She asked if I had a son called Stephen and I just replied "he's dead isn't he," for some reason I just knew.
"Stephen was such a careful driver and you hear of tragedies like this happening to other people but when it visits your own home it is a totally different matter.
"The last time I saw Stephen alive was when he left the house that night to go for a spin, as usual he was happy as larry."
The Barlow family say they have been able to draw great comfort from the support they have received from the community at this heartbreaking time and they want to thank everyone for their support.
Stephen's funeral took place yesterday at Scarva Street Presbyterian Church. Committal took place at Roselawn Crematorium in Belfast.
Donations in lieu of flowers are being sent to William Bell & Co Funeral Directors, 23 Kenlis Street, Banbridge BT32 3LR for children's charities.