| 16.8°C Belfast

Rev Ivan McKnight and ex-bus driver Jackie Farrell among latest Northern Ireland coronavirus victims

Close

Rev Ivan McKnight

Rev Ivan McKnight

Jackie Farrell from Strabane

Jackie Farrell from Strabane

Rev Ivan McKnight

Tributes have been paid to a Presbyterian minister who has become another Northern Ireland victim of coronavirus.

Rev Ivan McKnight (71) died at Belfast City Hospital on Monday and has been described as a "Godly gentle spirit" by a fellow minister who has known him since their college days together.

Starting his ministry as assistant at Ballysillan Presbyterian in 1984, Rev McKnight moved on to serve at Aghalone and Garvaghy Presbyterian between 1987-89.

He then spent four years in Donegal where he served as minister at Newtowncunningham, Ray and Second Ray Presbyterian Churches before returning to his native Belfast, where he had been a pupil at Methodist College, to serve as Minister at Ballygomartin until 1993.

More recently he served in Dromore, Co Down, though he had retired.

He would have celebrated his 72nd birthday on April 11 and leaves a wife, Yvonne, and sons Charles and Stephen.

It's understood Rev McKnight was admitted to Belfast City Hospital last week and on April 3 told family and friends he was very tired, weak and breathless.

Rev Steve Stockman, Minister at Fitzroy Presbyterian in Belfast, said he had met Rev McKnight as a student.

"He was a mature student when we met," said Rev Stockman. "Even then he was a gentle, jovial and positive man.

"More and more it's starting to hit home that we are no longer looking at statistics. Now we're seeing people we know taken from us, our friends and our family.

"I am so heartbroken. All my remembrances are of a warm, gracious, Godly gentle spirit who was always a joy to be in the company of."

Close

Jackie Farrell from Strabane

Jackie Farrell from Strabane

Jackie Farrell from Strabane

Also grieving are the family of Jackie Farrell (88) from Strabane, who revealed he died in Altnagelvin Hospital just a day after being admitted.

His daughter Ursula is currently in intensive care having also tested positive for the virus, while a second daughter with an underlying health condition is self-isolating and awaiting results after developing symptoms.

"If I've learned one thing it's to value the people you love because they don't come with a price," said Maria Farrell, Mr Farrell's youngest daughter.

She paid tribute to her father, a well-known bus driver in the Co Tyrone town where he had lived for many years.

"He had slight symptoms of Covid-19, but it got to his lungs and it took him very, very quickly," she said.

"I really want to thank the people of Strabane. Although they were practising social distancing they came out of their doors to show their respects. They made it a proud day for the Farrell family.

"My message is that if you think you all are going to be exempt from this, or that you're immune to Covid-19, you are all barking up the wrong tree.

"He had fought cancer, heart attacks, falls. You name it and he bounced back. This took him.

"I'm happy my daddy is with my mummy today. He had a good life. We always had great fun together. Covid-19 can't take that from me."

Belfast Telegraph