Belfast Telegraph

Varney family mourns 'sweet little Odhran' who died on Christmas Day in Belfast

By Cate McCurry

A five-year-old who died on Christmas Day has been described as a "sweet boy" whose smile would light up the darkest of rooms.

Odhran Varney, from Glengormley, Co Antrim, died suddenly after becoming unwell on Sunday.

The youngster was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where he died.

Although Odhran had underlying health problems, his death came as a shock for the wider family.

His parents Nicole Gillen and Phil Varney are now preparing for his funeral on New Year's Eve.

The cause of his death has yet to be established. Odhran, who had Down's syndrome, was a pupil at Hill Croft School in Newtownabbey.

The school posted a tribute to the youngster on its Facebook account.

"The whole Hill Croft family mourns the sudden loss of this sweet boy," it said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his mum and dad and the whole family circle at this terrible time.

"Odhran was a pleasure to have in school.

"His smile would light up the darkest of rooms and would lift the spirits of anyone.

"He would come in every morning and have a wee sit down before taking Gillian's hand and sitting to work hard on whatever was placed before him.

"He started using his signs more and more.

"At Christmas when the singing Christmas tree came out 'tree' was his favourite sign to get the tree singing and dancing again.

"His roll book job was done with business like precision, at first with adult help, but in recent days very independently.

"We are all so proud of all his achievements.

"Words cannot express how much we will miss him."

His mum posted a poignant picture of herself with little Odhran smiling on her social media account.

Hundreds of people also posted heartfelt messages of sympathy.

One friend wrote: "So sorry to hear of your loss, Nicole.

"Thinking of you and your whole family at this time, my thoughts and prayers are with you all.

"Such a brilliant, beautiful boy."

His funeral will take place on Saturday at 9.30am in St Bernard's Church, followed by burial in Carnmoney Cemetery.

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