'Sleep tight my angel' - Father's tribute to girl (10) who died after collapsing at school
Hundreds of mourners gathered yesterday to say goodbye to schoolgirl Isobel Anderson, who died suddenly last week.
The 10-year-old became unwell at Dromore Central Primary School in Co Down on Tuesday afternoon.
She died the following day in hospital despite a rapid response by teachers and medical staff.
At yesterday's service in Dromore Cathedral her father Tom paid a moving tribute to his eldest daughter, calling her full of "fun, mischief and love".
He described Isobel as "a mother hen" to her three sisters Mary, Tess and Kate, and a great help to her mum Heidi.
Before the service began projected pictures and videos showed a happy and active child smiling with her friends, horse riding and doing cartwheels on a beach.
"I want to single out our extreme gratitude to the staff that worked with wee Isobel in the playground that awful afternoon, the paramedics who came and got her as quickly as they could, and the doctors and nurses at the Royal Victoria Hospital," said Mr Anderson.
"That care from the start and the remarkable fight that my wee Isobel put up gave us an opportunity which I am so grateful for, the opportunity to say goodbye to Isobel."
Born on June 19, 2007, Mr Anderson said his daughter brought joy to the family from the very start.
"Those big sparkling eyes stood out straight away," he said.
"They were full of fun, mischief and love.
"She had a smile that could light up a room on the darkest of days, and she's lighting up Dromore this afternoon."
The arrival of her three younger sisters, he told mourners, had been "perfect" for Isobel.
"She would mother them and occasionally boss them around, but she was our wee mother hen," he added.
Praising the school staff, he said their description of his daughter as "like a breath of fresh air" was a great comfort.
He learned that with his daughter's caring manner, teachers had selected her as "a natural choice" to welcome new pupils to the school, and she was a "strong contender" to be head girl.
Mr Anderson also asked Isobel's closest friends to write down a few words.
"Heidi and I sat in the kitchen and read each one out, it was fantastic," he explained.
"That day I never thought that I'd be able to smile or laugh again, but we did - we found great comfort in that.
"We learned things about Isobel that we never knew."
One read: "'Iz' was family to us, she was always hungry. She was a great dancer. She loved unicorns, slime and Facetime."
Concluding, Mr Anderson urged parents, grandparents and children to share an extra hug at night, and told the young pupils who were present to "live life to the full".
"Work hard at your exams, do your best in sports, singing or dancing. Do it for her, please try hard not to forget her because I know her wee spirit will be with you," he said.
"She loved her friends so much.
"Isobel, we will always love you, in the words of your sisters Mary, Tess and Kate: 'Our home doesn't have six people anymore daddy, it is five people and one angel'. Sleep tight my angel."
Rev Geoff Wilson, who led the service, said that Isobel had been known as "a tender-hearted girl", while her Brownie leader described her as "a lovely, gentle and unassuming child who embraced Guiding with energy and enthusiasm".