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Mum’s moving tribute after daughter (18) with rare illness dies peacefully in her arms

By Angela Rainey

A Co Antrim woman who lost her daughter to a rare genetic condition that affects just 100 people in the world said "just having her in my life was a privilege".

Lesley Harvey (48) paid tribute to Brooke Elizabeth, who died peacefully in her mother's arms at the NI Children's Hospice on Tuesday.

Born weighing 5lb, Brooke was diagnosed with fucosidosis, a life-limiting condition that meant she was unlikely to reach 20 years of age.

She would have celebrated her 19th birthday next Tuesday.

She is survived by Lesley and dad Jim, and siblings Ryan (30) and Jade (17).

Family-orientated, Brooke loved to spend time with grandparents Lottie and Jimmy Dickey and doted on her nieces Alexandra (6) and Leah (4).

Although she could not speak, the pupil at Roddensvale School in Larne had many friends.

Mrs Harvey, who cared full-time for Brooke, recalls her daughter's "infectious laugh".

"She loved life and had a good life. Brooke was the happiest wee girl," she said.

"She was always smiling and she loved boys, especially her granda, dad and brother.

"Brooke loved people and she was a real people watcher.

"Everyone doted on her. Nothing ever got her down."

Brooke took ill after Boxing Day.

She was rushed to Antrim Area Hospital before being taken to the hospice, which she considered "her second home and which she loved", and was among the staff and friends who knew her.

"We all had some alone time with her then," said Mrs Harvey.

"Everyone who meant something to her was with her in her final moments. It was only right because she was loved by so many people.

"I held her in my arms and she just passed away so peacefully." She said she took comfort that Brooke "is finally at peace".

She added: "Brooke loved life but she was also the meaning of life.

"She was the meaning and the purpose of my life.

"I am so happy for the years we had with her and the happiness she brought to us.

"I feel so proud of her, all that she achieved, and everything about her.

"I am so privileged just to have had her in my life and to be called her mother."

A funeral service will be held for Brooke at Mulhollands of Carrickfergus at 2pm tomorrow.

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