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Rebekah's moving picture tribute to slurry tragedy dad Alastair Sloss

By Ann W Schmidt

Published 17/10/2016

Farmer Alastair Sloss and his daughter Rebekah
Farmer Alastair Sloss and his daughter Rebekah
The accident happened at a farm in Coagh, County Tyrone

The funeral of a hard-working Co Tyrone father-of-five who died in a farming accident takes place today.

Alastair Sloss was overcome by fumes and fell into a slurry pit at his Ruskey Road farm on Friday - one day before the deadline for slurry spreading passed.

His funeral will take place today at 2pm, at Saltersland Presbyterian Church, in the village of The Loup.

The service will be opened by Saltersland's Rev Martin Gracey and the family's minister, Rev Andy Campbell, of The Lighthouse Fellowship Church, will officiate at the service.

Mr Sloss, who was in his 50s, is survived by his wife Roberta and his five children, Jonathan, Rebekah, Sarah, David and Naomi.

On her Facebook page, Rebekah posted a photograph of her and Mr Sloss together as a tribute to her late father.

Writing in the comments below, friends encouraged the student to "keep your head up".

On his own Facebook page, Jonathan posted a video titled, Why I Farm, about farming as a generational career, passed on from father to son.

"Your whole family circle are in our thoughts and prayers," said one man.

Another friend said: "Praying for you all, Jonathan."

Mr Sloss's death came the day before farmers are prohibited from spreading more slurry.

With recent bad weather, and more predicted, last week farmers had been under immense pressure to finish spreading before the 'closed period', which runs until January 31.

The weather had also affected the emptying of slurry from tanks before the deadline for the closed period, and many farmers in the north and west of the province had been facing a major challenge.

Agriculture Minister Michelle McIlveen had even announced that her department would consider an extension to the deadline on a case-by-case basis "in exceptional circumstances".

Between 2000 and May 2015, 11 farm deaths were caused by slurry.

SDLP MLA and the party's agriculture spokesperson, Patsy McGlone, said the community had been left devastated.

"The community in Coagh is in mourning today as the news of Alastair Sloss's tragic death sinks in," the Mid Ulster MLA said.

"The farming community in particular are well known to each other here and they'll be reeling from the death of a friend. Alastair was extremely well respected as a good neighbour to everyone locally."

Mr McGlone urged farmers to use caution when they work at slurry.

"The Health and Safety Executive is currently investigating but it's widely believed that this was another slurry-related tragedy.

"Farmers across the North know how dangerous working at slurry can be.

"It's important that everyone exercises extreme care when setting about their work. The last thing our farming community needs is another tragedy.

"My thoughts and prayers are with Alastair's family and friends at this difficult time."

UUP MLA, Sandra Overend, also expressed her sadness.

"The slurry-spreading season, which is now concluding, brings a stressful time for farmers, juggling responsibilities, tending to animals and preparing the land," she said.

"It is just terrible that this tragedy has happened and another farming family is grieving as a result.

"My thoughts and prayers are with them."

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