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Hilden Brewery tragedy: Anguish of injured dad as his little Oliver Scullion makes final journey

Ivan Little reflects on the funeral service for little Oliver Scullion

Published 19/08/2015

Family members follow the coffin of Oliver Scullion after the service at McCracken Memorial Presbyterian, Belfast
Family members follow the coffin of Oliver Scullion after the service at McCracken Memorial Presbyterian, Belfast
Oliver’s coffin is carried by mourners
Distraught family members leaving the service
Oliver died in an accident at the Hilden Brewery, where his father is manager
Pallbearers at Oliver Scullion’s funeral
Oliver Scullion

The physical pain was nothing compared to the mental anguish Oliver Scullion's distraught father was clearly suffering yesterday at the funeral of his tragic toddler son who died in a freak accident that also left him injured at his brewery near Lisburn last week.

Fighting back tears and walking with crutches, Owen Scullion, whose right foot was in plaster, watched as other relatives carried his four-year-old son's little coffin from the same Presbyterian church on the Malone Road in Belfast where he was christened.

Mr Scullion had been with Oliver on Thursday at the Hilden Brewery he manages when the child, described by his family as their "beautiful boy", was killed.

Mr Scullion, whose award-winning brewery only recently announced expansion plans, was powerless to save his adored son.

The boy's charity-worker mother Jenny, who gave birth to her third child just five weeks ago, was supported by family members as Oliver's coffin was brought from the McCracken Memorial church, where the funeral address was given by an American cleric who had christened the boy.

The Rev Alexander Wimberly returned to his old church yesterday, and with his voice almost breaking with emotion, paid a moving tribute to Oliver.

Mr Wimberly grew up in Indiana and is the son, grandson and great-grandson of Presbyterian ministers in the States.

"It was a very beautiful and heartfelt eulogy and he summed up little Oliver to a tee," said one mourner.

The Scullions' other two children, Maia, who's almost two, and Patrick, who was born earlier in the summer, were in the church for the service at which the current McCracken minister, the Rev Barry McCroskery, also spoke.

A picture of Oliver was on the cover of an order of service, and immediately after the final prayers and hymns, the cortege left for a private burial.

The only wreath on the coffin was from the Scullion family, who had asked friends to make donations to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast, in lieu of flowers.

Ever since the accident scores of people have been turning up at Hilden to pay their respects to Oliver, who suffered his fatal injuries after a large metal tank fell on him.

Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland officials have been carrying out a detailed investigation at the popular brewery, which was set up in 1981 by Oliver's grandparents Ann and Seamus Scullion.

After the tragedy, Seamus Scullion said Oliver was a beautiful child who was full of life and enthusiasm for everything he did.

He added: "It is difficult to come to terms with life without him. We will miss him more than words can express."

Yesterday notices at Hilden said it was closed due a family bereavement.

Other messages which were pinned to railings outside the brewery said "To everyone who has left flowers and gifts and shared in our grief for the loss of our beloved Oliver, we thank you all from the bottom of hearts."

It was signed on behalf of the Scullion and Hanna families and all the employees of the popular brewery.

Another business owned by Hilden, Molly's Yard restaurant in the Botanic Avenue area of Belfast, was also closed yesterday.

Oliver's mother is currently on maternity leave from her job with the charity Action Medical Research, which raises money to help save children's lives.

Mrs Scullion is the community fundraising manager for the charity, which was established in 1952.

A number of councillors from Lisburn, including family friend Pat Catney from the SDLP, were present at yesterday's service.

The Scullion family have already announced that a beer and music festival, which is usually held at their brewery on the last of August every year, has been cancelled.

Among the messages of sympathy posted on social media in the wake of Oliver's death was one from world boxing champion Carl Frampton

Another came from Radio Ulster broadcaster Wendy Austin, who revealed that Owen Scullion was a contributor to her Inside Business programme.

In January his company announced plans to double its brewing capacity to 14,000 litres from 7,000 litres.

And it said that it would be creating three new jobs, as well as installing new machinery at its plant in the grounds of historic Hilden House.

Belfast Telegraph

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