A newly married man who died last week in a workplace accident in Lurgan was “a big, tall gentleman” who “wore his heart on his sleeve”, mourners heard yesterday.
Jonathan Peden, 32, had just been married to his wife Roisin for a matter of weeks when he died at Little Electrical Engineers in Lurgan last week.
He was stepfather to Laura and Shane, son of Geoffrey and Sandra and brother of Andrew and Adam.
His funeral took place yesterday at Donaghcloney Elim Church, taken by Pastor Ken Davidson.
The pastor’s wife, Alison, told the News Letter: “I have never seen so many people in Donacloney town itself - nor in our church.”
The church car park was kept clear and chairs were set out with an outdoor speaker for the overflow of mourners.
There were 200 people inside the venue and another 200 outside.
“I have never seen a funeral that was so quiet. People were very intently listening. It has really affected the community in Donaghcloney.
“Jonathan used to work in the village filling station.”
His two brothers also took part in the service, Andrew reading a poem and Adam giving a eulogy.
His wife Roisin also paid an emotional tribute, in which she said she thought she had a future ahead with her new husband.
Mr Davidson told mourners Jonathan loved running - and that he and his new wife had hoped to run the London Marathon together.
The couple met at a park run, where Roisin repeatedly tried to “catch his eye”, having been taken with his gentle manner.
The pastor said that as soon as she laid eyes on him, she said “he was mine”.
The couple had been in the same church on Sunday night before the tragic accident.
The pastor described him as “a big, tall gentleman” who “wore his heart on his sleeve”.
He preached a message on the passage: “What is your life but a vapour?”
Jonathan, above, was a keen Blackburn Rovers fan, and was secretary of the club’s Ballymena supporters’ branch.
He was so well thought of by the club that a representative flew over to Northern Ireland with a club shirt when they heard of his tragic death, said Pastor Davidson. One of many stories which illustrated his caring nature, the pastor related, was how his mother Sandra told him and his brother she was sending them to a correctional school after they misbehaved as youngsters. As the two lads came down the stairs crying with their toothbrushes, Jonathan put his arms around his brother and assured him: “I will look after you.”
While travelling home from a football match one day, Jonathan was overcome with conviction, and stopped with a friend to pray and “surrendered his life to Christ”.