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Grieving Armstrong family plan to bring Belfast scrambler bike death mum Valerie home

Tributes to 'wonderful person' who died after being hit while walking dog

By Allan Preston

Published 22/07/2016

Valerie Armstrong with her family
Valerie Armstrong with her family
Flowers at the scene in Colin Glen Forest Park where she was struck by a scrambler motorbike
Flowers at the scene in Colin Glen Forest Park where she was struck by a scrambler motorbike

The grieving family of the mum who died after a dirt-bike crash were yesterday preparing to bring her home for a final time.

Valerie Armstrong (35) passed away on Wednesday night after being struck by a scrambler bike as she walked her dog in Colin Glen Forest park in west Belfast on Tuesday evening.

Fr Vincent Cushnahan, from the Church of the Nativity in Poleglass, where she lived, said Valerie's husband, Seamus, and her three children "were still in a profound sense of shock and disbelief" over her death.

The family plan to hold a private wake in their home, with a funeral service to be held early next week.

Relatives have also confirmed that Valerie's organs will be donated to help save people on the waiting list.

A post-mortem examination is also to be carried out.

A GoFundMe page that was set up yesterday to help the family has so far raised £740 of its £5,000 target.

Yesterday morning, a 17-year-old male, who for legal reason cannot be named, appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

A 15-year-old arrested in connection with the incident has been released on bail.

Fr Cushnahan said it was still too soon for the family to think about a court case.

"I think they aren't really focused on the circumstances of the incident," he explained.

"They're just dealing with the palpable grief of losing Valerie, despite the surrounding court case going on. I think that would not feature with them."

Michael George, a community safety worker in Poleglass, said Valerie and her husband were "a lovely couple bringing up three fantastic kids".

"I've been talking to the sister-in-law and some of the family, and they're holding up well," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It's obviously still traumatic for them, but they're dealing with things as well as people could expect under these tragic circumstances.

"The family attended all the Colin neighbourhood events, - they had a community allotment up to a while ago.

"Valerie was very proactive in our community events and in taking part in anything that was going on."

Valerie's colleagues in Belfast's Cafe Vaudeville, where she worked as a waitress, paid an emotional tribute to their friend.

A statement read: "It is with heavy hearts that all of us at Cafe Vaudeville have taken the news of our friend and colleague Valerie Armstrong's tragic death.

"The outpouring of shock, love and sympathy we have received from past and present staff, customers and well-wishers is a testament to the wonderful person, wife and mother you were.

"From your Cafe Vaudeville family, to Seamus and family, know that Valerie will forever be in our thoughts and prayers."

Co-worker Michaela Edmondson added in a Facebook post: "I was lucky enough to work with Valerie for four years.

"Us girls working the restaurant were a family. We had so many laughs and were always there for each other.

"She was just an incredible mum-of-three and such a beautiful person.

"The world is a very cruel place and will never be the same without you.

"My heart is breaking for you and your beautiful family. Love you, Val."

Sinn Fein MLA Jennifer McCann also offered her sympathies to the bereaved family.

"The community has been shocked by what happened to this mother of three young children," she said.

"My thoughts and those of the entire local community are with the family and friends of Valerie Armstrong at this sad and difficult time.

"There is a clear need to address the problem of scrambler use, and I will be meeting with the PSNI and have requested a meeting with the Justice Minister to discuss the current legislation and enforcement in relation to these machines.

"I will also be meeting with the Minister for Infrastructure to discuss the need for an awareness campaign in relation to the dangers scramblers and quads present when used outside of designated places established for their use."

Readers wishing to donate money to the GoFundMe appeal to help Valerie's family can do so by visiting https://www.gofundme.com/rzvfnwk4

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