Celebration of John Pender's life held
Hundreds of people filled two ballrooms at Fitzpatrick Castle in Killiney last Saturday, for a celebration of the life of Shankill man John Pender.
John (53) died in Fuengirola in Spain on June 21 after being attacked in a bar by a man brandishing two broken bottles.
Mourners were asked to wear bright colours for the humanist service, which was held ahead of cremation at Mount Jerome.
'John never feared death because he said life is for living,' his wife Caroline McGuigan told the large crowd gathered to bid him farewell. 'If you said "why, John?" he would say, "why not?"
'He would say every morning, "I got to wake up" and in the evening he would say, "I got a day.'''
Speaking about the manner of John's death, Caroline said: 'The only thing I will say about that man is that he was a coward because you don't attack someone from behind.'
John's children Conor (21) and Amy (18) also spoke at the celebration, as did his brother Stephen.
'John fixed anything for anyone. But the biggest thing he managed to fix was people's hearts,' said Stephen.
John's friend Rob Carley hosted the celebration and said that the deceased was 'a man of peace'.
'John didn't have any angry bone in his body,' said Mr Carley.
'He was a pacifist, he'd walk away from trouble.'
Mourners sang along to John's favourite songs, including Rod Stewart's I Was Only Joking and Have I Told You Lately That I Love You, Fix You by Coldplay, and Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton.
In a written tribute in a booklet accompanying the two-hour service, Caroline wrote that John had an 'unexplainable capacity to love and serve' which was 'a joy to watch and a privilege to experience.'
'His hugs were legendary, they were comforting, assuring, even dare I say, healing,' she wrote.
'Over the past days John's investment of love has been rewarded by the greatest outpouring of love and support for our family.
'The world was shattered by John's passing and what has kept us moving has been the overwhelming love and unselfish support and the comforting words that have been sent our way,' she wrote.
'It lifts our hearts and shines a light into the darkness and reminds us of something that our family has always known. Love never fails.'
Caroline told mourners that she and John's children will honour his memory by accepting his wisdom that it is important to live fully without fear.
John was an acupuncturist and worked with the charity Suicide or Survive, which was founded by his wife Caroline McGuigan.