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Family’s grief as teen is laid to rest

By Allan Preston

Published 07/10/2016

Family and friends during the Funeral of Nathan Ritchie
Family and friends during the Funeral of Nathan Ritchie
Nathan Ritchie

The funeral of a homeless teenager from Bangor who suddenly died in Belfast last week has taken place.

Nathan Ritchie was 19 when he fell from a bridge over Belfast's busy Westlink last Thursday.

He had struggled with mental health and drug issues before his death, and his family said they believed that he was "let down by the system."

Nathan's funeral service was held yesterday morning at his grandparents' house on Stratford Drive in Bangor and proceeded afterwards to Clandeboye Cemetery.

A family notice described him as the "dearly loved son of Roxanna and Ryan and dear brother of Alanna, Quinton and Afia".

His mother paid an emotional tribute on social media the night before the service.

"No words will ever explain how I feel. I'm never going to forget this. You will always be in my heart mind and soul," she wrote.

"I'm so proud to have raised you as my child, so sad the system failed you.

"So sad, but I will campaign for help for another life. You touched so many people's lives."

Yesterday, a crowd funding page set up to help the family with funeral costs had raised £1,710, far exceeding the original £500 target.

On Tuesday evening, around 100 people attended a candlelit vigil for the 19-year-old on the High Street in Belfast city centre.

It is understood the teenager had been trying to seek help in the days before his death and had been due to see a psychiatrist on Monday.

Speaking at the vigil, Karen Boucher, from homelessness charity Haven, said: "Nathan was a good man.

"He may have had his hardships, and he certainly went through a lot.

"He wanted a better life, and was still struggling with his demons. He was determined to get back on the straight and narrow.

"It's so sad that a young life has ended so soon.

"Nathan was such a wee gentleman. We don't want to lose any more."

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