Family of girl killed in riding tragedy comforted by tributes
The family of a 13-year-old girl killed in a horseriding accident have been drawing huge comfort from all the tributes to their daughter as they make final preparations for her funeral.
Hannah Wiley from Artigarvan near Strabane was doing what she loved when tragedy struck at Eglinton Equestrian Centre.
Her horse refused a jump and fell on her on Friday evening.
Since then, tributes to Hannah have flowed in, which have sustained her grief-stricken parents, Ethna and Edmund and young brother Araron, according to the family's minister, Rev Mark Russell.
Rev Russell said: “Hannah’s parents have known how special she was, but to hear this affirmed by others outside of the family home is providing some comfort to them in these terrible days.
“Nothing could have prepared them for the enormous shock they received on Friday evening, especially for Edmund who was at the event with Hannah. They are still trying to come to terms with it.
“Hannah wasn't ill so there was no time for the family to brace themselves and the reality is we cannot answer why she was taken but they are so grateful for the 13 years they had with her.
“She was such a popular girl, she was very involved with sport generally and her friends from badminton, her pony club and school are likely to form guards of honour at her funeral.
“This is a small village and the entire wider community has been deeply affected by Hannah's death and are still trying to come to terms with it. But right now they are doing what they can for the family by offering support, sympathy and showing sensitivity.”
Hannah was described by those who knew her as a gifted girl, not just academically but also on the sports fields of her school where she was a dedicated pupil.
Her PE teacher, Catherine Moore, who is still deeply affected by the tragedy, said Hannah was “a joy to teach”.
She said: “My most fond memory of Hannah is through sport.
“This year she was the captain of the Under-13 hockey team and she was a natural choice.
“She excelled at anything she did in sports.”
Hannah's funeral service will take place at Leckpatrick Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, at 2pm.
Derry City Council, as the enforcement body responsible for health and safety at equestrian facilities in the area is leading an investigation into the circumstances of Hannah's tragic death.
David Hampton, principal at Strabane Academy, described Hannah as a very special young girl who excelled both academically and on the sports field. Clougher Valley Badminton Club at its prizegiving dinner congratulated Hannah for her talent and commitment to the sport. Academically, Hannah was recognised for her science ability, receiving a Silver Crest from the British Science Association at The Big Bang Science Fair