Belfast Telegraph

Daughter's tribute to crash victim teacher Heather Neill

By Victoria Leonard

The heartbroken daughter of a Lisburn teacher killed in a road accident has said her mother's legacy of kindness and faith will live on for ever.

Holly Neill (25) described her late mum Heather as "the glue that held our family together".

Mrs Neill, a devout Christian, was married to David and had two children - Holly and son Scott (22).

She would have celebrated her 28th wedding anniversary in August and had moved her elderly parents Wilson and Olive into the family home so she could care for them.

Mrs Neill died after the car she was driving collided with a Translink Goldline bus which was travelling from Londonderry to Belfast.

The crash happened on the Moneynick Road near Randalstown on Sunday.

The driver of the bus and its 20 passengers did not suffer any serious injuries.

Holly said that her family had been "inundated with messages of support" since the death of the popular Co Down woman, who was head of business studies at Dromore High School for over 30 years before her retirement last year.

"My mum was full of life, she was vibrant and she won't be easily forgotten," Holly said.

"I could spend the rest of my life talking about her and explaining how wonderful and special she was, but it would always fall short.

"She was the heart of our family and we are devastated beyond words.

"She had a strong faith and she was always the loudest person in church waving the biggest flag, so I fully believe she is singing, clapping and rejoicing in Heaven.

"She didn't fear death and I know her prayer would be that God will be glorified in some way out of this horrific tragedy."

Holly said that she received a phone call from her dad just before 3pm on Sunday to tell her that her mother had passed away.

"My mum had been going to see a close friend near Randalstown when it happened," she said.

"My dad said that she would have died instantly at the scene, which is another comfort, as it means she wasn't suffering.

"I'm heartbroken in ways that I never knew were possible.

However I take comfort from the fact she had a strong faith. It was like something that you hear on the news and never think will happen to you."

Heather was a member of Lisburn Christian Fellowship and was invited to share her faith at other churches.

"The amount of support we have received is testament to how many lives she touched and the impact is still being felt," Holly said.

"She was like a shining light in the community.

"I remember the church doing outreach work in the centre of Lisburn and my mum walked around with a sign saying 'Free hugs'.

"She was one of those people who, if she saw a need and knew what should be done she did it - it wasn't just good intentions.

"Mum would have been involved with the Women's Ministry and with Bible Studies group.

"She was invited to different churches and women's events to share her testimony."

Mrs Neill was known for her love of colour and fashion and Holly said that several of her late mum's students had contacted the family to share their fond memories.

"She was famous for painting her nails, she was always fashionable and some of the students say they remember her being glamorous," she said.

"We have been completely inundated with messages of support, people calling to the house bringing cards and food.

"It is testament to how many people's lives she touched.

"The family would like to thank everyone for their support. I think she will be looking down on us.

"We are all determined to make mum proud. We will take time to adjust, but her legacy will live on forever."

Mrs Neill's funeral will be held at 10am on Saturday at Lisburn Christian Fellowship and then on to Roselawn Crematorium for 12pm.

A Translink spokeswoman said the company had offered welfare support to the driver and that a full Translink investigation was under way.

Belfast Telegraph

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