Fire family shown true festive spirit
Andy and Rebecca Peden and their daughter, Daisy, have many reasons to be thankful this Christmas. That might seem a strange thing to say about a family whose home in Rathfriland was destroyed by a fire that spread from a nearby recycling plant, turning all their possessions, including their Christmas presents, to dust.
First and foremost, they recognise they are lucky to be alive at all as a neighbour wakened them as the blaze caught hold. Without that intervention, they could easily have been burned to death in their beds.
Secondly, people from all round the province have donated to a fundraising page for them, raising more than £10,000 in a couple of days.
The third piece of good news is that the Housing Executive will re-home the family in the coming weeks.
Often it is the inhumanity of man which makes the headlines, but those events are the exception in life. The reaction to this young family losing their home is a far more typical picture of the average Northern Ireland person.
The money came from friends and strangers alike, all touched by the plight of the family. Who among us could fail to be moved by the thought that the mother, father and daughter had lost their home and now owned only the clothes they had fled the scene in?
Who could think of little two-year-old Daisy getting up on Christmas morning with no presents from Santa and not wish to do something to help?
But we should not be surprised at the amount of money raised for the family or the donation of presents by retailers. The generosity of Northern Ireland people is legendary. These may be hard times for very many people, but there are always many others who are willing to help the less fortunate.
This is a story in the true spirit of Christmas. It is a tale of people sharing their own good fortune to ease the hardship of a family in distress. It is Northern Ireland people looking after their own.
So, like those who have rallied to the aid of the Peden family, we wish all our readers a happy Christmas.