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Wednesday 26 October 2016

Heartbreaking scenes at funeral of 'darling daddy' of five who died in farming accident

Cate McCurry

Published 18/10/2016 | 08:13

Alastair Sloss
Alastair Sloss

There were heartbreaking scenes as hard-working and "darling daddy" Alastair Sloss was laid to rest days after he died in a farming accident in Co Tyrone.

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The father-of-five was overcome by fumes and fell into a slurry pit at his Coagh farm on Friday - one day before the deadline for slurry spreading passed.

The farmer's family comforted each other as hundreds of mourners gathered for his funeral at Saltersland Presbyterian Church in The Loup.

Mr Sloss, who was in his fifties, was a loving husband to wife Roberta and father to children Jonathan, Rebekah, Sarah, David and Naomi.

His son Jonathan helped carry his coffin from the church before his burial.

The tragic incident happened at his farm on Ruskey Road just 24 hours before farmers were prohibited from spreading more slurry.

Ulster Farmers Union president Barclay Bell said the wet weather in summer and early autumn has hindered work in some parts of Northern Ireland.

"It is a tragic reminder that farms are busy workplaces and can sometimes be dangerous," he said.

"This is a busy time of year as many farmers work to get crops harvested, a last cut of silage, prepare housing for livestock and spreading slurry before the closed period deadline.

"But the spell of good weather over recent weeks has meant that farmers have been working hard to get as much done as possible before winter.

"I wish to extend our deepest sympathy to Mr Sloss' family at this time and to all the families who have lost loved ones in farm accidents.

"There has been a fall in the number of farm fatalities in the last few years, but even one death on a farm is one too many. The circumstances around this farm accident are still being investigated, but it is a sad reminder that you can never be too careful on a farm."

Just hours before the funeral, his daughter Sarah posted a poignant message on Facebook about enduring impossibly "rough days" but that she would get through it.

News of her father's tragic death comes days after a Co Fermanagh farmer was lucky to escape with his life while mixing slurry.

Five cows died during the incident at Letterbreen last Tuesday.

Between 2000 and May 2015, 11 farm deaths were caused by slurry.

A post from Yellow Wellies Farm Safety Campaign - which promotes and trains safety on farms - said: "Such an unfathomable tragedy at a time of year when farmers are under even more pressure than normal. Rest in peace, Alastair. Please, please stay slurry safe folks."

Holstein Northern Ireland also posted a tribute to their member: "Thoughts and prayers with the Sloss family after the tragic death of our friend and Holstein member, Alastair of the Druminard Herd."

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is investigating the incident which claimed Mr Sloss's life. In a statement issued following the tragedy, the HSE said its "deepest sympathies are with the man's family at this most difficult time".

Belfast Telegraph

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