Amy Loughrey's grieving dad says 'losing her a year ago means Christmas is just another painful day'
Dad tells how crash tragedy has left his festive season joyless
The father of a young woman killed in a car collision has said Christmas will be "another painful day" for him as he prepares to mark the first anniversary of her death.
Amy Loughrey (25) passed away minutes after she finished her shift at the Co Donegal hotel where she worked on December 22 last year.
Her family home in the Waterside area of Londonderry was stripped of Christmas decorations after a knock on the door from the police brought the devastating news that Amy had died.
The home of Amy's father Paul in Drumahoe was also left bare - and those same decorations will remain packed away this year too.
His pain is still much too raw to consider the trapping of Christmas celebrations - instead he will spend time quietly remembering his sweet and caring daughter.
He said: "This week I bought a Christmas wreath for my daughter's grave. No-one should have to do that. No parent should have to bury their child.
"Two nights before Amy died she was along with her friend at the Merchant Hotel in Belfast, where she had her photograph taken in front of the Christmas tree.
"It is a fabulous, fabulous photograph of her but this year I put that photograph on the top of the Remembrance tree in Lifford in Donegal market where I am a trader.
"It is just not right to be walking by and look up at a photograph of your daughter on a memorial tree, but that is the height of my Christmas decorations this year - she is my angel on top of the tree from now on.
"I walked into one of the local supermarkets around Halloween and the boxes of Roses and Quality Street were sitting out and I just thought, 'This is Christmas - this is what we have been dreading'.
"I decided this year I will do absolutely nothing. There will be no tree, decorations up in my house. It is just another painful day in the year for us. We are not even buying presents.
"Last year on Boxing Day, when we came back from the funeral, as everyone started drifting away from the house we uncovered the sack of presents Amy had bought for us. She had everything wrapped and tagged, because she was working right up to Christmas.
"What do you do with that memory? So we are not going to do presents this year, she is going to be missed so much.
"She had a smile that would light up a room - she was such a stunning girl, not just in looks but in personality."
Amy shared her father's appreciation of music and some of Paul's happiest memories include three magical days spent in Dublin attending an AC/DC concert Amy had bought tickets for as a birthday present for her father.
Amy had planned something similar for a Guns N' Roses concert at Slane Castle last May.
Paul explained: "Amy and I spent three days in Dublin for a two hour AC/DC concert for my birthday - that's how close we were.
"Last November I had mentioned to Amy that Guns N' Roses were reforming, but the tickets sold out almost immediately.
"What I didn't know was Amy went on the internet and located two tickets from someone in Donaghadee, paying well over the odds for them and landed down to me saying, 'Here you are pops, we are going to celebrate my birthday in May at Guns N' Roses'.
"After Amy died, it took me until about March before I wasn't completely numb. Then I tried everything I could to re-sell those tickets, but I couldn't get rid of them.
"At the last minute I decided to go along with a mate, but we drove down to Dublin, went to the concert and drove back home again.
"One of the most poignant moments during the concert that will stay with me forever was when the band played Sweet Child O' Mine.
"I stood there with the tears streaming down my face, but it created such a special memory that connected me to her so close to what would have been her 26th birthday.
"That week in May was particularly tough, but really I could say I haven't lived this year at all.
"There is never a good time to lose someone like Amy, no parent should have to bury their child, but last Christmas was a nightmare.
"I have no memory of the four days that passed between getting the news about Amy and her funeral on Boxing Day, but the outpouring of grief was so comforting at the time - that I do remember, and it was about the only thing that kept us going.
"People are so, so good. So many still come up to me and offer me their sympathy and I appreciate their kind words, but nothing will ever make up for the loss of my wonderful Amy.
"Amy rang me every day and I was always waiting on her call, saying, 'What's the craic, pops, how are you?' so to say she is missed is an understatement."