The devastated father of a young Irish dancing champion who died suddenly while she watched television said his talented daughter “had her whole life in front of her to live”.
Speaking last night from the family home in Cliftonville Road in north Belfast, Terry Mackin (57) paid an emotional tribute to 16-year-old Terri-Anne whose death has left family and friends “in complete shock”.
Hundreds of mourners are expected to attend the funeral which will take place this morning.
The former All-Ireland dancing champion will receive a guard of honour made up of friends from Irish dancing schools she attended and pupils from Colaiste Feirste on the Falls Road.
Mr Mackin said: “Her friends are just all in shock, we all are. The whole house has been filled with people wanting to give us support. She just loved life, dancing, animals and children.
“Her dream was to dance in Riverdance, she started when she was six.
“But she also loved animals, both me and her mum thought she might have been a vet.
“Who knows now what she would have done, but she was very talented.”
Terri-Anne died on Sunday at the family home. She had fallen asleep on the sofa but didn’t wake up.
Mr Mackin said he, his wife Anne and family have been overwhelmed by support. “Friends have been leaving messages on Bebo, which is comforting to know so many people cared about her and loved her,” he said.
The sudden death of the seemingly fit and healthy teenager has sparked concerns she could have suffered from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS).
Following a post-mortem, however, Mr Mackin said it could be months before they know why she died.
Terri-Anne will be buried at Belfast City Cemetery following a Requiem Mass at Sacred Heart Church, north Belfast.