Belfast Telegraph

Mum’s agony over death of ‘loveable wee rogue’

The mother of a young boy who died following an asthma attack has spoken of her heartache ahead of his funeral this morning.

Grief-stricken Leanne Simpson will today lead mourners at the|funeral of her eight-year-old |son Hugh Simpson-Callaghan in Carndonagh.

The boy from outside Gleneely on the Donegal peninsula suffered an asthma attack while eating his dinner at the family home on Monday evening.

Leanne, who is originally from Londonderry, said her son, the third child in a family of five, was full of energy and loved playing football despite suffering chronic asthma and using an inhaler.

He was treated in hospital two days before Christmas with a bad chest, she said.

“We are heartbroken. No words can describe how we are feeling. Hugh was our loveable wee rogue.”

She said Hugh was thrilled when she told him about a unique birthday he would celebrate later this year.

“He turned eight on November 11 and I told him his birthday this year would be 11.11.11, a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

“He thought this was absolutely brilliant.”

Leanne and Hugh's devastated step-father Sean Callaghan described how they rushed the child in their van to the out-of-hours NowDoc service at Carndonagh Community Hospital 4km away.

He had begun feeling unwell at the dinner table just before 7pm but his condition deteriorated rapidly.

He was pronounced dead a short time later at the hospital.

There has been a huge outpouring of sympathy in the small rural village as scores of people call to pay their respects at the family's home.

Meanwhile, staff from the school attended by Hugh described him as a “born performer” who was always smiling.

Colleagues at the small, 97-pupil Craigtown Primary School paid tribute to him, saying: “Hugh loved all sports, with soccer, Gaelic football and boxing among his favourites.

“He was musically talented, and, indeed, a born performer as was seen in our recent Christmas production of ‘Busy, Busy, Bethlehem’ when he played a lead role.”

They added: “Hugh was popular with all children in our school. He was full of fun and laughter. He was always smiling. Hugh was a friend to everyone.”

Fr James McGonagle, from St Buadan’s Church in nearby Bocan, said yesterday that the family and entire community |were devastated.

He said: “Everybody is supporting the family at the moment. Everyone’s thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Local Fianna Fail councillor Charlie McConalogue, who lives near the family, said: “This has been a terrible blow for this |family. It is really tough going for them at this time. For this to happen to an eight-year-old is just so tragic.”

Requiem Mass will be held at the The Church of the Sacred Heart in Carndonagh at 11am today.

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