Heartbroken mum pays tribute to baby who 'lit up our world'
"She had a twinkle in her eye when she smiled and that smile would light up the darkest of rooms."
These were the poignant words of the mother of little seven-month-old Bella Lowry who died on Tuesday morning after a brave fight for survival.
Judith Lowry was speaking at a memorial service yesterday following daughter Bella's funeral.
There were emotional scenes at Ballycrochan Presbyterian Church in Bangor at the service for the little girl after she lost her battle with a rare genetic disorder, spinal muscular atrophy.
Bella's mum Judith and dad David, along with her brothers, Harrison and Joseph, paid tribute to the little girl who "gave them all so much".
Judith said: "Most of you here never met Bella. She had a twinkle in her eye when she smiled, and that smile lit up the darkest of rooms.
"Bella was very warm-hearted and was very choosy as to who she took to, but if she took to you she was such a friendly little baby.
"To many, she may have looked like she had spinal muscular atrophy but she was so, so much more.
"She lit up our world. She was a real ray of sunshine and was such a happy little baby."
The Bangor church was packed with friends and family and other well-wishers.
Bella was born on April 3 but was diagnosed at just 16 weeks with spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic disease that causes muscle weakness and progressive loss of movement.
Bella passed away in her parents' arms on Tuesday morning at the family home.
Her fight for survival captured the hearts of people across Northern Ireland, many of whom donated to a fundraising bid to fly Bella to England by air ambulance for urgent treatment. The campaign was launched because Bella could not get clearance to board a commercial flight to England for a medical trial that could prolong her life.
Staff in the Ulster Hospital gave Bella the best of care for weeks but sadly she never gained enough strength to make the journey to England.
Other family members, also fighting back their tears, paid tribute to Bella at the service, which was conducted by the Rev Lesley Ann Wilson.
Her uncle, Gordon Davidson, read a poem followed by the playing of a fitting song called Borrowed Angels.
Another uncle, Colin Davidson, paid tribute to Judith. "I am very proud of my wee sister," he said. "She was always by Bella's side. Bella could not have found a better family to be born into.
"David sacrificed a lot of his time with Bella to look after their two boys so that Judith could always be there with her."
Bella was buried during a private funeral service at Clandeboye Cemetery yesterday morning before the church service.