Belfast Telegraph

Choking victim Sherry Campbell was beautiful inside and out - mum's farewell tribute

By Victoria Leonard

Tragic choking victim Sherry Campbell was "beautiful inside as well as outside" and "achieved much in becoming the person she was", mourners at the Groomsport woman's funeral were told yesterday.

St Comgall's Church in Bangor was filled to capacity as family, friends, work colleagues and pupils gathered to celebrate the life of the Strangford College special needs teaching assistant. Sherry (29), an only child, was found dead in the kitchen of her family home by her father Shannon after choking to death in the early hours of last Thursday.

She would have celebrated her 30th birthday on October 12.

Yesterday, as the rain poured down relentlessly, mourners filed into the family's church, which was decorated with displays of flowers Sherry loved.

The altar was flanked by two large sprays of purple and white blooms, while a lone red, yellow and white bouquet sat in front of the coffin.

As the Campbell family took their seats at the front of the church her grief-stricken father paused for a moment, resting his hand on his only child's coffin before making his way into the pew.

Father Joseph Gunn extended a particular welcome to the young pupils from Strangford College, who were dotted throughout the congregation, and for whom he said Sherry's passing might be their "first experience of death and a funeral".

He added: "Sudden death, sudden mercy; that is our consolation as we contemplate the death of Sherry at the age of 29.

"A young death shocks and affronts us.

"In the depths of her grief, Sherry's mother Fionuala said that Sherry was beautiful inside as well as outside, and many people have spoken to me of Sherry's great generosity, her kindness in school and her love of life.

Sherry Campbell’s mother Fionuala
Sherry Campbell’s mother Fionuala
Sherry Campbell’s father Shannon
Other mourners at the funeral service for the 29-year-old
Other mourners at the funeral service for the 29-year-old
Other mourners at the funeral service for the 29-year-old
Sherry Campbell
Shannon Campbell The funeral of Strangford College teaching assistant Sherry Campbell takes place in Bangor on September 14th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of Strangford College teaching assistant Sherry Campbell takes place in Bangor on September 14th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of Strangford College teaching assistant Sherry Campbell takes place in Bangor on September 14th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of Strangford College teaching assistant Sherry Campbell takes place in Bangor on September 14th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of Strangford College teaching assistant Sherry Campbell takes place in Bangor on September 14th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of Strangford College teaching assistant Sherry Campbell takes place in Bangor on September 14th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of Strangford College teaching assistant Sherry Campbell takes place in Bangor on September 14th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
The funeral of Strangford College teaching assistant Sherry Campbell takes place in Bangor on September 14th 2017 (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)

"In those few words we hear so much.

"She had achieved much in becoming the person she was.

"The only antidote to this loss is hope; hope in the mercy of God, hope in eternal life."

One of the Bible readings was given by Strangford College history teacher Gareth Boal, who had taught Sherry as a pupil at the school before she returned to take up her "dream job" there.

In a poignant tribute from the Book of Wisdom, he read: "The upright, even if he dies before his time, will be at rest.

"Honourable age does not depend on length of days, nor is the number of years a true measure of life."

Later in the service Mr Boal joined with Strangford College colleague Donna Moore, who teaches English, to sing a touching Irish blessing.

As the music echoed around the church heartbroken members of Sherry's family gathered around her coffin sobbing. Her parents then bent down to bestow a last kiss upon the casket, which was flanked by a guard of honour comprised of 12 senior pupils from the college as it left the church.

At the roadside family members consoled each other as the coffin was loaded into a hearse packed with flowers.

The family then travelled to Ballyvestry Cemetery at Edgewater, outside Millisle, where Sherry was laid to rest beside her grandparents.

This was followed by refreshments in Sherry's favourite restaurant, Pier 36 in Donaghadee, which had been decorated in bright colours and flowers in her honour.

The Campbell family intend to create a charitable foundation in Sherry's name, which will raise awareness of how to cope with choking when alone, as well as fundraise for a special needs teaching assistant at Strangford College.

To donate to Sherry's cause, visit the foundation's JustGiving page

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