Priest says ‘full of life’ nine-year-old could have grown up to become a champion boxer
A priest at the funeral of a nine-year-old boy who died after a scrambler crash has warned of the dangers of bikes.
Charlie Joyce, who was described as a child who loved animals and sport, was laid to rest on Monday after a service at All Saints’ Church in Ballymena, with burial in the town’s cemetery.
Charlie was riding a scrambler that was involved in a collision with another motorbike in Dunclug Park in Ballymena on Thursday last week. He passed away in the Royal Victoria Hospital.
A 13-year-old boy remains critically ill in hospital after the accident beside a play park.
Charlie’s white coffin was carried into All Saints’ Church followed by a large crowd of family and friends.
One mourner carried a red and blue helmet.
Among the floral tributes carried on the back of a flatbed truck was a framed picture of the young boy on a bike.
Fr Patrick Delargy, parish priest of All Saints’ Church, recalled Charlie attending services, most recently last week, with other pupils from St Brigid’s Primary School.
He also mourners how he remembered the little boy having his First Communion.
“Charlie was a very active boy. He went to St Brigid’s and got on very well with teachers and friends, always full of life,” Fr Delargy added.
“He adjusted well to the discipline of school education.
“He loved animals, especially horses and dogs like the Alsatian which rushed barking at me when I went to the wrong door yesterday.
“I think he would have been more calm than me.
“Charlie has been a member of All Saints’ Boxing Club since he was three years old. He came in every night side-by-side with his sister Joeleigha.”
Fr Delargy told the congregation: "He also liked scrambling but we also know that motorbike racing is a dangerous sport."
He said that while it can be "exciting" it is "also dangerous as well and sometimes we have to recognise that".
The priest suggested that "maybe more thought has to be given to biking events and where they take place".
He added: "We have to remember human life is very fragile, and all sorts of sports, there are all these rules to be kept. But sometimes things happen right out of the blue. And you don't know how or why. And we're left to recover from them. And that's what we're doing today."
Fr Delargy called at the Joyce family home a short time after Charlie passed away.
“He looked so small and slight and fragile in the coffin. Sadly, there was no sign at all he would ever wake up again,” he said.
“Katie Marie, his mother, said to me, ‘Do you think he will be afraid? I hope he is not fearful’.
“She had no doubt where he was going — into the afterlife, beyond the grave and into a new place, far beyond this world.
“But what would the passing over be like? How would he manage? What can I say?
“It is not easy to get the right words to say in a time of tragedy. That is why we turn to our faith and to the Good News.
“The church offers consolation and hope in the midst of sorrow and sadness.
“As Charlie steps into the darkness, we know the good shepherd is with him.
“Someone said, ‘We never die as long as someone remembers us’, and we are never going to forget Charlie.”
Charlie’s sister, Rhianna, read a prayer alongside his coffin during the service.
She said: “May we all go forward eagerly to meet Jesus, and after our life on earth, may we be reunited to our brothers and sisters where every tear will be wiped away.”
The accident led to an outpouring of tributes for the young boy and his family.
Jim Brady, the headmaster of St Brigid’s Primary School, expressed “deep sadness” on behalf of all pupils and staff following the tragic news.
“We woke up to news that no school community ever wants to receive, and we have been supporting our pupils and Charlie’s many friends as they come to terms with his death,” he said.
“He lit up every room he entered. He was at the centre of life in his classroom and was a very popular boy with his peers.”
Charlie is survived by his parents, Joe and Katie-Marie, and his six siblings, Martina, Rhianna, Joeleigha, Atlanta, Joseph and Georgia.