Tragic young man whose example lives on
This weekend marks the first anniversary of the deaths of Nevin Spence, the former Ulster rugby star, and also of his father Noel and brother Graham, at their home near Hillsborough.
They died after being overcome by fumes in a slurry tank. The tragedy shocked the entire farming and non-farming community, as well as the world of rugby, not only in Ulster but much further afield.
The loss was felt keenly last night in moments of quiet reflection at the rugby match between Nevin's former team-mates and the Glasgow Warriors in the newly refurbished stadium at Ravenhill. His death was a major blow not only through the loss of an exceptional young player, but also in the sad circumstances in which he and his brother and father died.
Nevin was not only a fine player but also an upstanding and modest young man with a keen sense of humour, a warm smile and a strong character which showed the best virtues of his Christian faith.
It is particularly fitting, therefore, that an education and heritage centre will be built at Ravenhill as one of the memorials to his name, and as a reminder of his courage and family loyalty, and also of his contribution to Ulster sport.
He was one of those young men who showed the best side of the Ulster personality and he was the kind of person who would have made a significant contribution to the new Northern Ireland which all people of vision and goodwill are trying to build.
It is now up to the others of his generation, and the rest of us, to set about doing so. His example will live on in the hearts and minds of people who recall a uniquely talented young man who, through tragic circumstances, was prevented from fulfilling his great potential.
The story of Nevin Spence is also a reminder of the caring nature of Ulster people, and of their heartfelt sympathy for a family which has suffered so cruelly. They have all our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.