Tributes were paid to Alyson Nelson at a service of thanksgiving
The family of murder victim Alyson Nelson have paid an emotional tribute, remembering her as someone with “the kindest heart” who always saw the best in people.
At a service of thanksgiving in St Patrick’s Church in Whitehead on Tuesday afternoon, Pastor Steve Ames read tributes from her family.
Mourners were also encouraged to spend time reflecting on their own memories.
The 64-year-old grandmother and retired nurse was stabbed to death in her home on Saturday, April 16.
A tribute from her brother Thomas recalled happy childhood memories.
Born into a nursing family at home in Carrickfergus, Ms Nelson was delivered by her grandmother, who was also the local midwife.
Moving to live near the train station in Greenisland, she and Thomas helped to care for their brother Donald, who has Down syndrome.
Ms Nelson’s daughter Laura said that people would often comment on how she looked like her mother.
“I’ll be very lucky if I end up looking like you at your age. You definitely don’t look like a pensioner,” she said.
“I’m sure you would be raging at that description of you in the news.”
She added: “You had the kindest heart and you always saw the best in people, giving them anything they needed and never asking for anything in return.”
She recalled how her mother would often stop to help a homeless person, especially if they had a dog.
“You always said that bad things sometimes happen to good people and [how] that person was someone’s son, brother or dad and that they deserved a bit of kindness too.”
Another clear memory was the perfume her mother had worn every day at work in the Royal Victoria Hospital.
With a love of dogs, her mother, she said, always took in the older and sicker canines that no one else wanted.
Her pets were also a strong comfort after her husband, Hector, died seven years ago.
Ms Nelson’s daughter Rachel added: “There are so many words that can be used to describe Mum — funny, caring, wacky and patient, to name a few.
“Mum could light up a room just by walking into it. People were drawn to her incredible personality and beautiful smile.”
Describing her mother as a nurse by job and by nature, she said she was proud to carry on the family tradition.
“If I can become half the nurse she was, I’ll be happy. She loved her job and missed work after she had to medically retire due to arthritis.”
At Christmas time she said the lights from her mother’s house could be seen from the train station.
“Every year she said, ‘I’m not going mad this year,’ but we all knew it wasn’t true. Mum would have had enough food to feed the 5,000 and then some.”
Of these gatherings, her son Peter said: “Mum loved when we all were together, even though she spent most of her time out in the kitchen. She said she loved to hear our laughs and just to know that we were together.”
On Saturday, hundreds had gathered for a vigil at the seafront in Whitehead, with those attending wearing white ribbons in support of a campaign opposing violence against women.
Reading a family statement, Pastor Steve Ames thanked the community of Whitehead for their support after “Mum was robbed of her life under the cruellest of circumstances”.
They added: “While events continue to be very raw for the many weeks and months yet to come, we as a family take great comfort knowing how loved Mum was — and still is — by her friends, family and all those who stand with us after this abhorrent crime.”