Family in mourning after schoolgirl (11) dies in hospital after suddenly taking ill
A Co Armagh family have been plunged into mourning by the sudden death of a young schoolgirl.
Maddy-Leigh Harbinson (11) from Collingdale in Lurgan passed away at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital on Monday after suddenly taking ill at the weekend.
Maddy-Leigh was a former pupil of Carrick Primary School, Lurgan. Paying tribute yesterday, its principal Alison Lindsay said: "Maddy-Leigh was a pupil at Carrick Primary School until P4 and staff remember her with great fondness.
"We offer our sincere condolences and prayers to her family."
The daughter of Colin and Sabrina Harbinson and sister of Tristen, Maddy-Leigh started at Lismore Comprehensive School in Craigavon last September.
Principal Fiona Kane said of the Year 8 pupil: "Maddy-Leigh was a very pleasant, quiet and hard-working student who made a tremendous contribution to the life and work of Lismore in such a short period of time.
"She raised £200 for charity last term in aid of multiple sclerosis and was recognised for this outstanding achievement.
"Our sincere sympathy and condolences are with the Harbinson family and Maddy-Leigh's friends at this difficult time. We are keeping you all very much in the prayers of the Lismore School Community".
The school has said it will be open after Maddy-Leigh's funeral service tomorrow afternoon for any who would like to come together, while support will also be made available for both students and staff on their return next week after mid-term break.
Local DUP MLA Carla Lockhart was among those paying tribute to the schoolgirl yesterday.
She said: "This is devastating news for little Maddy-Leigh's family, friends and the local community.
"A bubbly 11-year-old girl with everything to live for, cut off in the prime of life. Having spoken to the family, they are just distraught and feel numb with the shock and sense of deep loss.
"My thoughts and prayers will be with them. I know that there will be strong family and community support to help carry the Harbinson and McCombe family through this tragedy."
The SDLP's Dolores Kelly added: "This is a dreadful tragedy for Maddy-Leigh's family and the worst news that any parent could get.
"I want to express my condolences to them, her friends and the school community at this terribly difficult time."
Hundreds of tributes have also flooded in for the family on social media.
One woman wrote: "So sorry that you have lost your young daughter. No parent should have to bury their child."
Another commented: "My heart is broke. I can't believe this, what a beautiful girl and family, R.I.P angel."
Maddy-Leigh's funeral will take place tomorrow at 11.15am from her home, going to St Anthony's Church in Craigavon for Requiem Mass at 12 noon followed by interment in Lurgan Cemetery.
Maddy-Leigh is survived by her parents, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles and entire family circle.