Family of road accident victim Gerry Kingsbury try to carry on with Christmas - that's what hee'd want party
There will be an empty seat at the Christmas table this year where Gerry Kingsbury would have sat among his four grandchildren and four grown-up children.
In years gone by, Gerry would have let the youngsters use his legs as a slide or spent the afternoon singing and dancing, but this year he'll be sorely missed.
The 56-year-old was tragically killed when a taxi hit him as he walked home from his work's Christmas do on Friday night at about 2.30am. The devastated driver was a friend of the family.
Gerry's four children; Kelly-Anne (32), Pamela (28), Stephen (26) and David (30), can't be sure exactly why their dad decided to walk home that night, but they explained that the Liverpool super-fan had started walking to keep fit in January this year.
Kelly-Anne said: "Last year dad was told he had high blood pressure and had to change his diet to lose weight. He took the advice really seriously and lost six stone in just under a year.
"He was my big teddy bear when I was younger and a few weeks ago was the first time I was able to hug him and get my arms around his waist, I even teased him that I would get him some nice new skinny jeans to show off his bum.
"Dad took his health very seriously and tracked everything he ate on an app on his phone and nothing would stop him going out power-walking, not even the rain. He told me he liked to get out and look around him and walking on the treadmill was never an option."
Kelly-Anne said one of Gerry's colleagues at Mivan, where he had worked for over 20 years, had offered her dad a lift home that tragic night, but he had refused.
"When dad went out for a beer he liked to balance it out with walking so we can only imagine that's why he chose to walk home, but it was dark and there was no path on one side of that road," Kelly Anne said. All four of Gerry's children have described him as a worker - they never wanted for anything growing up and he did all he could to provide for his family who were his number one priority.
Pamela, who is mum to two of Gerry's grandchildren, told the Belfast Telegraph her dad would have dropped everything to help his family. "All we had to do was lift the phone", she said.
Kelly-Anne, who will walk down the aisle without her dad to hold her hand next August, said she will remember him as the "big softie" he was.
"When we were kids and my friends first met him they thought he was scary, he was a big guy with a shaved head, but as soon as they got to know him he became everyone's favourite," she said. As well as working for Mivan and devoting time to his kids and grandkids, Gerry was able to squeeze in a healthy dose of a social life and would spend most Saturday's watching his beloved Liverpool play while enjoying a few beers with his brothers Colin and Brian.
He was also a member of the Ballymena Liverpool Supporter's Club and the Orange Lodge and was a huge part of the community in Antrim.
The family have planned some nods to Gerry's lifelong-obsession with Liverpool Football Club at his funeral, which will be held at St Jude's, Muckamore, on Wednesday.
His coffin will be carried to a rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" and his children will all be wearing Liverpool jerseys.
Gerry was one of seven children and his brothers and sisters will also be sporting Liverpool tributes.
His sister Susan, who described Gerry as "everyone's handyman" told the Belfast Telegraph the family were close and that Gerry had been the entertainer for as long as they could all remember.
She said: "We didn't have a lot growing up but we had each other and our parents taught us to appreciate that, now we're always here for each other.
"Gerry came to my house every Friday night for dinner."
His brother Charles said he would be remembered as the joker he was.
"He used to cut everybody's hair when we were growing up and he'd pretend the battery had died when he was halfway through," he said.
"One time our dad came out in the middle of a head-shave and shouted at us so one of our friends really was left with half a haircut. Gerry laughed and laughed.
"Christmas will be difficult without him but he'd want us to keep going and have all our celebrations anyway, that's just what we'll do."