Funeral held in west Belfast for scrambler bike victim Valerie Armstrong
A PRIEST at the funeral of scrambler crash victim Valerie Armstrong were told how her death had "shocked us, angered us and left us broken-hearted".
Parish priest Rev Pat Sheehan told mourners on Monday that the tragic death of the mother-of-three "could have been and should have been avoided."
Mrs Armstrong's husband Seamus and children Dylan (10), Lucy (7) and Sophie-Belle (5) were supported by hundreds of family and friends who packed into the Church of the Nativity in Poleglass, on the outskirts of west Belfast.
Mourners heard how her coffin had been "filled with beautiful pictures and painted angels" created by her children "to accompany her on her journey to God".
Her children also carried a wreath as her funeral cortège made its way to the church on Monday.
The 35-year-old died after being struck by a scrambler while out walking the family dog in Colin Glen Park last Tuesday.
Fr Sheehan described how her death could have been prevented, but instead had "robbed us of a light and plunged us into darkness".
"Each of us, who knew Valerie, will remember how and where we heard the news of her death with shock and disbelief," he said.
"On a sunny summer evening she went out to walk her dog in a public place but did not return home alive.
"As we heard the circumstances of her death, that shock turned to anger, because it was a terrible death that could have been avoided and should have been avoided.
"I know her death was not intended but it happened, and it happened because others made bad choices.
"Young people made choices to ride scramblers irresponsibly in public places.
"Adults, maybe giving into pressure, made choices to buy scramblers for young people living in built up areas.
"People need to think about what they are doing. These choices can and have devastating consequences even though that was never intended.
"These choices are destroying lives; both the lives of people like Valerie and the lives of young people responsible."
Originally from Co Westmeath, Mrs Armstrong passed away at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast on Wednesday and her organs were donated to help others.
Fr Sheehan described how people should be "inspired by Valerie's thoughtfulness and generosity", which had led to the gift of organ donation.
"For years she has had an organ donor card so that, in the event of her death, others might have the opportunity of new life by transplanting her organs," he said.
"That has been done. People's lives, that were once burdened and limited by sickness, are now restored to health because of her concern for and commitment to the sick.
"We are thankful to God for the blessing he bestowed on Valerie in this life and the blessing he brought to our lives through her."
The priest also told mourners of how Mrs Armstrong was a "cheerful and positive person, a person of faith and hope".
"We are proud to have known Valerie, who was, as her colleagues from Café Vaudeville described her, 'a wonderful person, wife and mother'," he said.
"Valerie loved life, she loved her husband Seamus and she was committed to their three wonderful children Dylan, Lucy and Sophie."
Mrs Armstrong was laid to rest at Blaris Cemetery in Lisburn.
Police investigating Mrs Armstrong's death appealed on Monday night for a passer-by believed to have been at the scene to come forward.
A 17-year-old male youth appeared in court last week charged in connection with Mrs Armstong's death and a 15-year-old boy was released on police bail.