Family pay tribute to Odhran Varney (5) who died on Christmas Day

Five-year-old Odhran Varney passed away on Christmas Day

THE family of a five-year-old boy who died on Christmas Day have described him as a “special little boy”.

Odhran Varney, from Glengormley, Co Antrim, died in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital hours after becoming unwell.

Odhran, who had Down’s syndrome, was a pupil at Hill Croft School in Newtownabbey.

His father Phil and mother Nicole Gillen were being comforted by family and friends on Tuesday night.

Odhran’s remains are expected to be returned to them on Wednesday.

His uncle James Gillen said that although Odhran had underlying health problems, his death has shocked the family circle.

“The best way to describe him was a special little boy who touched everybody’s hearts and made everybody smile,” he said.

“He touched so many people’s lives and made so many people happy.”

The cause of Odhran’s death has yet to be established.

“It was very sudden and his family and friends are devastated. There was no warning,” Mr Gillen said.

Councillor Jim Bingham sits on the board of governors at Hill Croft.

His daughter Julie (36), a former pupil, died after failing to recover from an epileptic seizure in 2010.

“I don’t think you ever get over it. You learn to live with it. I offer my condolences to the family,” he said.

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