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Editor's Viewpoint: Spences remain in our thoughts

The attendance of more than 5,000 people at the memorial service at Ravenhill rugby stadium yesterday underlined the huge sympathy being expressed over the untimely death of the talented young UIster player Nevin Spence and his father and brother, and also of support for the grieving family.

The tragic loss of Nevin Spence, Noel and Graham has touched the hearts of so many people, and the outpouring of sympathy from many different quarters illustrates the depth of feeling expressed during the past days.

This was mirrored over the weekend by tributes from different sports audiences and players. There was a minute's silence at Irish League matches, as well as those in the English Aviva premiership games, and similar tributes were paid at rugby and hockey matches.

There is a deep and lingering sadness at the death of such a talented rugby player so long before his prime, and yesterday's tribute to Nevin Spence from Rory Best was both appropriate and moving. His death is not only a personal loss, but also a great loss to Ulster rugby.

However, this has enormous repercussions far beyond sport, and the passing of three very fit men, in such a swift and deadly incident, strikes to the heart of every family.

Many people have been impressed by the courage of Emma Rice who risked her life to try to save her father and her brothers. Emma also gained the respect of everyone because of her tribute at the funerals, in which she spoke eloquently about the Christian faith and witness of her loved ones.

In the past week many people from all parts of the community have spoken of their sense of loss and of their compassion for those directly affected, but inevitably the suffering of the Spence family continues. This is the time when they will still need all our sympathy and prayers as they summon up the strength and courage to face each new day. They can be assured that the thoughts of all of us will be with them continually.

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