Heartbreak and tears as Armstrong children say final farewell to scrambler death mum Valerie
Tearful farewells have been said to devoted wife and mother-of-three Valerie Armstrong, who died last week after being struck by a scrambler motorbike.
Family and friends packed the Church of The Nativity, Poleglass, where Mrs Armstrong was an active member of the congregation, to pay their respects to the woman described as "caring, thoughtful and generous".
Her children Dylan (10), Lucy (7) and Sophie-Belle (5) and husband Seamus led the procession into the 500-seat chapel, which was filled to capacity.
Many mourners signified their respect by wearing neck scarves and markers on their lapels to commemorate Mrs Armstrong's love of the colour purple.
A solitary wreath of white flowers bordered with purple blooms was placed at the entrance to the chapel, simply spelling out the word "Mum".
Also in attendance was treasured family pet husky Kaya, who Mrs Armstrong had been walking through Colin Glen Park last week when she died after being hit by a teenager on a dirt bike.
The 35-year-old had settled in Poleglass in west Belfast with the "love of her life", husband Seamus, who she married 11 years ago on what was the "happiest day of his life".
Originally from Rochfortbridge in Co Westmeath, she came from "a happy and loving family" which included her parents Sonny and Christina and her siblings Johanna, Colette, Ann, Ben and Aidan.
A waitress at Cafe Vaudeville in Belfast, Mrs Armstrong was remembered as "a cheerful and positive person; a person of faith and hope." A devout Catholic, Mrs Armstrong attended The Church of the Nativity with her children each week and often on other days to take part in activities there.
The congregation was told how Mrs Armstrong loved helping others, especially her children, and how she loved doing puzzles and teaching them arts and crafts.
To mark this the children had placed hand-painted pictures of purple angels inside her coffin "to accompany her on her journey to God".
Fr Patrick Sheehan said that Mrs Armstrong showed immense kindness in life and in death: "We are inspired by Valerie's thoughtfulness and generosity," he said.
"For years she has had an organ donor card so that, in the event of her death, others might have the opportunity of new life by transplanting her organs. That has been done.
"People's lives, that were once burdened and limited by sickness, are now restored to health because of her concern for and commitment to the sick."
He added that her death was unintended but was a reminder to all to make better choices.
"Each of us who knew Valerie will remember how and where we heard the news of her death with shock and disbelief," he said.
"On a sunny summer evening she went out to walk her dog in a public place, but did not return home alive.
"As we heard the circumstances of her death, that shock turned to anger, because it was a terrible death that could have been avoided and should have been avoided.
"I know her death was not intended but it happened, and it happened because others made bad choices.
"Young people made choices to ride scramblers irresponsibly in public places.
"Adults, maybe giving into pressure, made choices to buy scramblers for young people living in built-up areas.
"I sometimes wonder, 'would it bring people to their senses if they had to face the heartbreak that has been caused?' - not to shame them, to help change them. What if they had to listen to Seamus' heartbreak; a young man who has lost a wonderful wife? What if they had to answer the questions of three young children who wonder why this terrible thing has happened to their mother? What if they had to explain to Valerie's broken-hearted parents that it was meant to be just fun?"
Son Dylan carried a photo of his mother as the procession left to take Valerie to her place of rest at Blaris Cemetery in Lisburn.
A fundraising page set up to help the family with any financial costs has raised more than £3,000.