Belfast Telegraph

Monday 24 November 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Spences remain in our thoughts

Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. A young Ulster fan pictured at the tributes to Nevin Spence and his family at the side of the pitch in Ravenhill.
Pacemaker Press 23/9/2012 Thousands of rugby fans during a memorial service for Ulster player Nevin Spence at Ravenhill in Belfast on sunday , Nevin, 22, his brother, Graham, 30, and their father, Noel, 58, were overcome by slurry gas at their farm in Hillsborough last Saturday Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured on the stands during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured at the tributes to Nevin Spence and his family at the side of the pitch in Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. An Ulster fan pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ttributes to Nevin Spence and his family at the side of the pitch in Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured at the tributes to Nevin Spence and his family at the side of the pitch in Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.Ulster players Rob Herring, Robbie Diack, Nick Williams, Ali Birch,Craig Gilroy,
23/9/12 PACEMAKER BELFAST. Thousands of people file past the make shift wall of tributes and flowers before this afternoons memorial service at Ravenhill in memory of Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence who lost his life along with his father and brother in a tragic farming accident. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
23/9/12 PACEMAKER BELFAST. A man holds the order of service during this afternoons memorial service at Ravenhill in memory of Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence who lost his life along with his father and brother in a tragic farming accident. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
23/9/12 PACEMAKER BELFAST. A man watches from the wall of flowers and tributes during this afternoons memorial service at Ravenhill in memory of Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence who lost his life along with his father and brother in a tragic farming accident. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
23/9/12 PACEMAKER BELFAST. The Ulster rugby squad during this afternoons memorial service at Ravenhill in memory of Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence who lost his life along with his father and brother in a tragic farming accident. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
23/9/12 PACEMAKER BELFAST. A young rugby fan holds his father's hand during this afternoons memorial service at Ravenhill in memory of Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence who lost his life along with his father and brother in a tragic farming accident. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured on the stands during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured on the stands during the service at Ravenhill.
Pacemaker Press 23/9/2012 Thousands of rugby fans during a memorial service for Ulster player Nevin Spence at Ravenhill in Belfast on sunday , Nevin, 22, his brother, Graham, 30, and their father, Noel, 58, were overcome by slurry gas at their farm in Hillsborough last Saturday Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans walk under the memorial arch at Ravenhill before the memorial starts. .
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
Northern Ireland- 22nd September 2012 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Memorial service held at Ravenhill for Ulster Rugby's Nevin Spence who died last week with his brother Graham and father Noel due to a farm accident. Ulster fans pictured during the service at Ravenhill.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.Doug Howlett, Anthony Foley and Paul O'Connell
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.The capella choir from Wallace High School singing at the memorial service.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.The capella choir from Wallace High School singing at the memorial service.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.Ulster Captain Johann Muller reads from Psalm 27:1-6; 13-14
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.Ulster Captain Johann Muller reads from Psalm 27:1-6; 13-14
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.Ulster rugby player Paul Marshall reads from John 14: 1-6; 25-27
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.Members of the Leinster squad attending the Nevin Spence memorial service at Ravenhill
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.Ulster' players Callum Black, Dan Tuohy and Roger Wilson with former team mate Isaac Boss
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.Sunday's service was led by the Reverend Andrew Thompson, Ulster rugby chaplain and minister at Elmwood Presbyterian Church in Lisburn.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down. Ulster players Jared Payne, John Afoa and Tom Court
The three coffins leave Ballynahinch Baptist church, in Co Down after the funeral service of Noel Spence, 68, and his sons Graham, 30, and Nevin, 22 who all died trying to save each other in a slurry tank
The funeral cortage of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church
The funeral cortage of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church
Ravenhill Rugby Club on the day of the Spence funerals
Nevin Spence's coffin is covered with his Ulster Flag Jersey after his funeral service at Ballynahinch Baptist church, in Co Down
Jim Neilly
Nevin Spence coffin drapped in his Ulster Rugby Heineken Cup jersey.
Edwin Poots MLA and family friend
Family members at the head of the funeral cortage of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt (left) attending the Spence funeral.
Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte (left) pictured at the funeral
A police officer salutes Nevin Spence's coffin as it leaves the church after the funeral service
Ulster player Tommy Bowe pictured at the funeral
Ulster captain Johann Muller pictured at the funeral.
The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson arrives at the funeral
Ravenhill Rugby Club on the day of the Spence funerals. Photograph by Declan Roughan
The Spence family arrive at Ballynahinch Baptist church, in Co Down for the funeral service of Noel Spence, 68, and his sons Graham, 30, and Nevin, 22. Photo PA
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ PresseyeThe funeral of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church, who died in an farming accident on Saturday evening.Ulster rugby player Paddy McAllister (centre) walking in the funeral cortage.
The Spence family arrive at Ballynahinch Baptist church, in Co Down for the funeral service of Noel Spence, 68, and his sons Graham, 30, and Nevin, 22. Photo PA
The Spence family arrive at Ballynahinch Baptist church, in Co Down for the funeral service of Noel Spence, 68, and his sons Graham, 30, and Nevin, 22. Photo PA
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ PresseyeThe funeral of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church, who died in an farming accident on Saturday evening.Harry Sinclaie Ulster Farmers Union President.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ PresseyeFamily members at the head of the funeral cortage of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church, who died in an farming accident on Saturday evening.UUP leader Mike Nesbitt (left) attending the Spence Funeral.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ PresseyeThe funeral cortage of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church, who died in an farming accident on Saturday evening.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ PresseyeThe funeral cortage of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church, who died in an farming accident on Saturday evening.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ PresseyeThe funeral of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church, who died in an farming accident on Saturday evening.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ PresseyeThe funeral cortage of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church, who died in an farming accident on Saturday evening.
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -19th September 2012Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ PresseyeThe funeral cortage of Noel Spence and his two sons Graham (30) and Nevin (22) at Ballynahinch Baptist Church, who died in an farming accident on Saturday evening.
19/9/12 PACEMAKER BELFAST. Essie Spence is comforted by family members at todays funeral in Ballynahinch of Noel, Nevin and Graham Spence who died following a tragic farming accident at their Hillsborough home at the weekend. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
19/9/12 PACEMAKER BELFAST. Surviving family member Emma Rice at todays funeral in Ballynahinch of father Noel and brothers Nevin and Graham Spence who died following a tragic farming accident at their Hillsborough home at the weekend. Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.
Funerals at Ballynahinch Baptist Church for Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence along with his brother Graham and father Noel
Funerals at Ballynahinch Baptist Church for Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence along with his brother Graham and father Noel
Emma Spence twice risked her life to try and save her brothers and father
Nevin Spence, 22, came to prominence playing for Ulster Rugby and was a rising star in Ireland's international rugby scene
Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence who was killed, along with his father and brother in a farming accident
Book of condolence opened at Ravenhill rugby ground for Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence along with his brother Graham and father Noel who died in a slurry tank accident on the family farm outside Hillsborough in Co. Down. Tributes placed at Ravenhill
Book of condolence opened at Ravenhill rugby ground for Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence along with his brother Graham and father Noel who died in a slurry tank accident on the family farm outside Hillsborough in Co. Down. Tributes placed at Ravenhill
A painting of Nevin Spence by his sister Emma.
Book of condolence opened at Ravenhill rugby ground for Ulster rugby star Nevin Spence along with his brother Graham and father Noel who died in a slurry tank accident on the family farm outside Hillsborough in Co. Down. Tributes placed at Ravenhill
Artist Emma Spence from Hillsborough County Down pictured at her studio in a barn at the rear of her father's farm. ©Press Eye Ltd - Northern Ireland.25th February 2011
Pacemaker Press 17/9/2012 Graham Spence
Graham Spence at his Hillsborough farm.
Nevin Spence on the family farm. Pacemaker press
Ulster's Nevin Spence
Nevin Spence, father Noel and brother Graham
Nevin Spence playing for Ulster last December against the Scarletts
Nevin Spence at Ulster's summer camp
Nevin Spence in action for Ulster against Bath
Nevin Spence with Ulster team-mate Nigel Brady back in December 2010
Nevin Spence relaxing down on the farm
Nevin Spence (far left) with young Oscar Knox who suffers from a rare form of cancer
Gifted: Accident survivor Emma Spence on the family farm
Emma Spence in her artist's studio
Emma Spence's portrait of brother Nevin on the rugby pitch
Ulster's Nevin Spence
Horror: The Spence farm, where emergency services attended on Saturday night after four people were overcome by fumes
Horror: The Spence farm, where emergency services attended on Saturday night after four people were overcome by fumes
Tributes for Nevin Spence and his family left at Ravenhill
A family console each other while reading messages of condolence at the home of Ulster Rugby
Tributes left at Ulster Rugby's home ground Ravenhill for Nevin Spence and his family.
Tributes left at Ulster Rugby's home ground Ravenhill for Nevin Spence and his family.
Tributes left at Ulster Rugby's home ground Ravenhill for Nevin Spence and his family.
Tributes left at Ulster Rugby's home ground Ravenhill for Nevin Spence and his family.
Tributes left at Ulster Rugby's home ground Ravenhill for Nevin Spence and his family.
Tributes left at Ulster Rugby's home ground Ravenhill for Nevin Spence and his family.
Tributes left at Ulster Rugby's home ground Ravenhill for Nevin Spence and his family.
Nevin Spence, who died alongside his father Noel and brother Graham
Ulster's Nevin Spence
Tributes left at Ulster Rugby's home ground Ravenhill for Nevin Spence and his family.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland - 23rd September 2012Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/Presseye.com Memorial service at Ravenhill for Ulster rugby player Nevin Spence, who died along with his father and brother in a farming accident in Hillsborough,County Down.

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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