Every day we wake up to devastation, says mother
The parents of a teenager who died alongside his best friend after being poisoned by carbon monoxide have spoken a year after the tragedy of how they still wake up to "devastation" every day.
Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson, both from Newtownabbey, died after the deadly gas leak occurred while they were staying in a holiday apartment in Castlerock, Co Londonderry, last August.
Their friend Matthew Gaw, who was also in the north coast seaside apartment at the time, survived the leak.
Today, on the anniversary of their deaths, Neil's mother Catherine McFerran told of how the families are just "taking each day as it comes".
"I can't believe that it has been a year. You think back to last year and what was happening," Mrs McFerran told the Belfast Telegraph. "My daughter turned 21 in July last year and we had a party and we've great memories of that."
Pausing, she added: "And it was only a couple of weeks later that Neil was dead."
The teens had gone to the luxury apartment to relax ahead of receiving exam results. After they failed to come home the concerned parents of the students - both prefects at Glengormley High School - travelled to the flat.
"Aaron and Matthew had gone up on the Friday night, then Neil went on the Sunday," Mrs McFerran said. "When we spoke to Aaron's mum and Matthew's mum we realised they hadn't got any calls from them. My husband then became worried sick."
When the boys failed to arrive back on time Aaron's parents, Katrina and George Davidson, and the McFerrans drove to Castlerock. Neil's dad John managed to jump through the window and ran in and opened the front door.
There they found Aaron and Neil lying in the flat. Matthew was still conscious, but disorientated. The teenagers' parents fought in vain to save their sons' lives, keeping up resuscitation efforts until help arrived.
Asked if she felt anger about what had happened, Mrs McFerran replied: "No. I never felt any anger, just devastation."
She added: "We've had unbelievable support. We have fantastic friends and family who have been here for us, looking after us with help and support.
"We know there are lots of people praying for us. That has certainly made a difference.
"You don't understand yourself how you are surviving from one day to the next because you wake up every day to devastation. You just try your best to get through that day, every day."
Mrs McFerran said she still has happy memories of her son.
"When I think back, we never have a bad memory of Neil. He was a very happy wee boy; he loved life. He appreciated life and he appreciated friends and people and he had time for people.
"It is just unbelievable that it happened to him. Our lives will never be the same," she said.
"But our main focus is creating more awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide. If the awareness had been out there, Neil and Aaron would have had an alarm."