Matthew Thompson's heartbroken partner leads tributes to 'love of her life' who died on afternoon jog
Family and friends of a man who died suddenly while jogging heard him described as a "humble, honest and funny gent" at a celebration of his life.
Matthew Thompson, a manager at Marks & Spencer foodhall at Belfast's Forestside Shopping Centre, died on Saturday afternoon on the Lagan Towpath.
The 39-year-old was on his way back home when he collapsed on the route. A passer-by performed CPR, but the jogger could not be saved.
The "love of his life" and partner of four years, Lauren McCaughtry (28), led tributes at the Service of Thanksgiving at Ulster Temple in Ravenhill, following an earlier committal at Roselawn Cemetery.
The couple, who were said to be besotted with one another, met through their work with Marks & Spencer, and both of them believed they had found their partner for life.
"Don't feel sorry for me," Lauren told mourners, "for I am the luckiest girl in the world."
She added that although she had lost her "absolute soulmate", she "wouldn't have changed a single moment" and was grateful that Matthew had been part of her life and for the immense love they shared for each other.
"Thank you for all the magical moments, Matthew," she said. "I will love you for ever."
Pastor Stephen Thompson read, "Love is patient, love is kind", from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. The order of service also included the hymns How Great Thou Art and Be Thou My Vision.
Mr Thompson told the congregation of how Matthew had been baptised at age 10 and "knew the pure unfailing love of the Lord".
He also recalled how the M&S manager "who loved fun, was humble and had a great sense of humour" was devoted to the two women in his life - his mother, Sylvia, and his partner, Lauren.
"Of all the people I have spoken to who knew Matthew, everyone recalls what great fun he was to be around," he said. "Matthew loved his work and his friends, but the main love in Matthew's life was for Sylvia and, of course, for Lauren.
"He was a devoted son. He loved his mum and would take her for the weekly shopping.
"He had time for everyone, and those who knew him felt happy to be around him. He was full of happiness and warmth.
"It still makes everyone laugh to hear of his plans to taste chicken wings from all over the world - the tour he called on a wing and a prayer."
After the news of Matthew's tragic jogging death, Lauren set up an online campaign to raise money to put defibrillators in all Marks & Spencer's stores and on the Lagan Towpath.
Yesterday, the total raised was just short of £4,500, but the company has now agreed to install the life-saving devices in all stores throughout Northern Ireland.
Speaking after the announcement, Lauren said: "It's amazing that this is going to be done in his honour, and it's such a great way to remember him."
- To make a donation on the crowdfunding.justgiving.com site enter MatthewThompson39forever.