Gavin McNaney: Amazing son, friend and teacher
“IF you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Gavin McNaney's attitude to languages was epitomised by this Nelson Mandela quotation.
If only 3 per cent of the world's population are fluent in four languages, then Gavin was a member of an even smaller, more talented group.
Born in 1980, the only child to Pat and Nuala McNaney, Armagh was always his home but he travelled the world to explore the cultures of Europe, the Middle East and South America.
His flair for languages first flourished at St Patrick's Grammar School, Armagh.
Soon after graduating from the University of Ulster with a degree in French and Spanish, Gavin taught languages for almost three years in St Catherine's College, Armagh.
He was highly regarded by staff and pupils alike, as demonstrated by the school's guard of honour and its choir's impeccable participation at his funeral.
Gavin had taught for a short time in the Middle East prior to St Catherine's and returned to work as head of French in GEMS Metropole School, Dubai.
His new post allowed him to further satisfy his desire to travel and in February this year he visited Goa in India during a school holiday.
Shortly after returning from India and feeling unwell, Gavin visited the doctor and soon after was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
It is a testament to his strength of character and unwillingness to cause concern to his family and friends that he began his journey with illness alone.
He organised his affairs in Dubai and made the long trip to the City Hospital in Belfast before breaking the news.
He would remain in the hospital for the next three months but throughout his treatment, he never complained of the hand he had been dealt.
Daily visits from family and friends, along with the excellent care by staff on Haematology Ward 10, helped him to remain positive and smile throughout.
He responded well to his treatment and to a bone marrow transplant in London in the summer.
However, after contracting a common cold and an infection to his lungs, Gavin's life was sadly cut short and he passed away peacefully with his parents by his side on November 18. He was 37 years old.
Those that were fortunate to have known Gavin will attest that each and every hobby that he put his hand to, he excelled in.
He was self-taught on guitar and regularly shared videos of himself playing the Blues.
His visited the gym with friends no less than five days per week, and such was his passion to keep fit that even in hospital, he lifted weights and used the exercise bike daily.
Gavin was also an avid MMA supporter and attended events with friends all over the world. He held a blue belt in Brazilian Ju-Jitsu.
It is often said at times like these how truly amazing an individual was. Gavin McNaney was just that. An amazing son, nephew, cousin, friend and teacher.
Gavin's month's mind Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday December 19 at 7.30pm in St Malachy's Church, Armagh.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.