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O'Neill family are a true inspiration

When Fintan O'Neill and his sister Mary were struck by a car after they got off their school bus a year ago today, few expected this story to have a happy ending.

The children's parents, Amelia and Kevin O'Neill, were told to 'expect the worst' after the youngsters were knocked down on the Staffordstown Road, between Randalstown and Toomebridge as they were returning from St Patrick's College in Maghera.

Fintan, then aged 14, suffered eleven broken bones, a bleed to the brain and when he reached Antrim Area Hospital had to be resuscitated after his lung collapsed onto his heart.

Meanwhile, 12-year-old Mary suffered such severe head injuries she was twice given the Last Rites and in the dark days and weeks after the collision her parents were told there was no hope for their daughter.

However, against all the odds and against the expectations of the medical staff, Mary not only began to breathe on her own after being taken off a ventilator but continued to make remarkable progress.

After almost seven months, she was discharged from hospital and began attending Fleming Fulton School in September.

There is no doubt that what happened on that awful day a year ago has changed the lives of this Co Antrim family.

They have come through the most difficult experience and have chosen to focus on the positives in a way that many will find truly inspiring.

In particular, they are grateful to everyone who has helped them over the past twelve months, from bringing food, saying prayers and raising funds.

This strong sense of community and the amazing support and kindness that comes through in times of adversity can make such a difference to a family undergoing immense trauma.

The O'Neills also paid tribute to the 'fantastic' medical teams who treated the children and hospital staff at all levels who showed such care and dedication.

In a world where the trivial and superficial can be given undue prominence, the story of Mary and Fintan O'Neill and their devoted parents is a reminder of what is truly important.

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