Tuesday 17 October 2017

Last picture of little Thomas (4) who died in farm tragedy - parents' hearts 'broken into million pieces'

'Our beautiful boy with the amazing smile lit up lives of everyone he met ... we still can't believe he's gone'

Image of Thomas Magee taken one day before the accident. Hhe was the only son of David and Jacqueline and brother of Emily and Lucianna on April 12th 2017 (Photo - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Image of Thomas Magee taken one day before the accident. Hhe was the only son of David and Jacqueline and brother of Emily and Lucianna on April 12th 2017 (Photo - Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

Allan Preston

The parents of a four-year-old boy who died in a farming accident last night spoke of their gratitude to the family and friends who had rallied round to support them.

Little Thomas Magee died after an accident involving a JCB digger at his family's dairy farm in Maguiresbridge, Co Fermanagh last Thursday.  As they struggle to come to terms with the tragedy, Thomas' parents said they had been overwhelmed by the support shown by the local community.

"After the morning it happened, all our friends and family were here at 6am to help milk the cows," said Thomas' father David.

"They just rallied in and I haven't had to lift a finger to do anything since.

Thomas Magee
Thomas Magee

"Today was the first day I got outside and got doing a bit of work again, it definitely lifted my mind."

Mum Jackie added: "Our hearts are still broken into a million pieces but it's wonderful to see the support of so many people - people that don't even know us.

"There have even been prayer vigils in Romania, we've been told.

"The heartache and the heartbreak is always going to be there but the support has been overwhelming."

Mr Magee said Thomas' eight year-old sister Emily had also been "a tower of strength".

"She said yesterday morning, 'You're the best mummy and daddy in the whole world,' giving hugs and comforting things like that."

The Magees' Greenhill Road farmhouse lies at the end of a long and winding lane.

Over the past few days, scores of mourners have travelled along it, up the high hillside to the two-storey home with the wind turbine turning gently beside it.

Hundreds of cups of tea have been served by the family to the visitors sharing in their grief.

But yesterday, the beautiful views of expansive Fermanagh fields offered by the farmhouse's vantage point seemed to pale into insignificance.

David noted that it seemed quieter, with fewer tractors on the normally busy country roads since the tragedy.

Thomas was just one month away from celebrating his fifth birthday with his friends.

Instead the little boys' classmates from Maguiresbridge Primary school formed a guard of honour for his coffin on Sunday.

The parents praised the paramedics and family minister who arrived at the scene on the devastating night of their son's death.

"The minister was called out before Thomas was taken away," said David.

"He said a prayer and held his hand."

Sitting in the farmhouse kitchen as mourners and relatives continued to pour through the door, David talked about the inconsolable sense of despair he felt at the hospital his son was taken to, and the solace his minister later provided.

"I couldn't look at anybody or face family," he said.

"The minister came in, he was so down to earth, and said, 'He's in a safe place now'.

"Once I heard that I knew he was somewhere safe."

Mr Magee said that it was still difficult to accept the loss with so many reminders of his son at home. Only the day before his death, his official school portrait had arrived at his family home.

"I found a wee pair of outside shoes for running around the farm, just wee things like that," he said.

"I spent maybe half an hour outside looking for his toy tractor and all these memories keep creeping back.

"I find being busy on the farm today has helped a lot, people calling up and talking and chatting.

"Even young fellas in their 20s have been coming up to me in tears.

"The big shock will be when everybody goes and you're back on your own."

Jackie said that above all, she wanted people to remember her son "as a beautiful wee boy with an amazing smile, sparkling personality and everyone that met him loved him".

Her voice occasionally cracking with emotion, she added: "He was always smiling. Eyes that were dancing with devilment, a smile that would melt a heart.

"Thomas was the type of little boy, the minute you met him you just loved him. People would have stopped you if you were shopping to say, 'Isn't he a lovely boy'.

"He always smiled and thanked people, he just lit up everyone's lives."

Emily read her own touching tribute to her little brother during Sunday's funeral service at Maguiresbridge Methodist Church.

"We brought wee Thomas home, he was in his playroom surrounded by tractors and everything," said Jackie.

"Emily disappeared for a wee while and came back with this."

The letter reads: "Dear Thomas, you are very special in every way, we loved you sitting there every day working on that little farm of yours.

"You and Lucianna playing on the scooter, and Thomas playing on the toy tractor.

"You loved buying new cows every day.

"One by one as the farm is getting bigger with more cows, making more work for you and daddy.

"Your favourite joke was 'what's black and white and red all over? A sunburnt friesian cow.'

"Our mind is on you right now and always will be, your memories are extraordinary and special, like you.

"We will never forget you, lots of love, your big sister Emily and little sister Lucianna (aged two)."

Mr and Mrs Magee said they were amazed by their daughter's courage.

"She was in pieces," her mother explained.

"When the coffin was leaving the house for the last time and you know that's the last time you're going to have your wee boy at home.

"For Emily it was hard seeing him go through the door, but she was remarkable."

The grieving parents said they would remember their only son for his happy nature and how he loved to be with his father on the farm.

"He was too good to be true, you never had to scold him," said Mr Magee.

"Normally, Thomas was always by my side, the two girls were with Jackie.

"If I came in for a cup of tea he came in and would follow me out again.

"He had a wee toy farm of his own, he wasn't into television. If he wasn't outside with me he was with his toy farm. He'd started to play a bit of football as well at his school."

Thomas attended the Squirrels at his local Scout group.

"He loved his leaders at Squirrels," his mother said.

"At his last night at Squirrels he had an Easter egg hunt.

"His eggs are still here and he never even got a chance to eat them."

"We also had parents up to day with wee presents for Emily and Lucianna.

"One wee girl - we used to tease Thomas that she was his girlfriend - gave a teddy for his coffin. I don't quite believe it still."

Belfast Telegraph

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