Belfast Telegraph

Father of girl (10) who collapsed and died last year passes away

By Stewart Robson

Tributes have been paid to Dromore man Tom Anderson who died less than a year after the sudden passing of his 10-year-old daughter.

Friends and former colleagues said the 50-year-old had inspired them to raise funds to provide life-saving equipment to schools and nurseries after Isobel collapsed in her school playground last September.

Mr Anderson, who died on July 13, helped raise thousands of pounds for defibrillators in the aftermath of his daughter's death.

The congregation at Dromore Cathedral heard during his funeral that he was a keen sports fan who loved playing rugby and golf.

He was also a member of Boardmills Presbyterian Church's Boys' Brigade Company.

The Very Rev Geoff Wilson told mourners that Mr Anderson was "a big man with a huge heart" who loved his wife Heidi from the day they met in 2004.

He worked for transport company Woodside Haulage for nearly 30 years.

Company director Mark Woodside paid tribute to Mr Anderson.

"He was very loyal, very hard working and a great personality," he said.

Mr Anderson grew up on the family farm with his sister Karen, who said on Facebook that she was "very proud" of her older brother "and the man he was".

Gary Barlow, also from Dromore, came up with the idea of creating a JustGiving page last September with the blessing of Tom and Heidi.

His ambition was to have a defibrillator installed in Isobel's school.

And with the public giving so generously, Gary said that he believes nearly every school and nursery in the town now had the potentially life-saving equipment at hand.

"The whole reason that the idea for raising money came about was because of Tom's words at the funeral of Isobel," Gary said.

"They were inspirational. He supported us with everything."

Mr Barlow added that, along with his wife, he formed a great friendship with Mr Anderson and Heidi. They kept in close contact following Isobel's death.

"Even up to last month, all the children from Isobel's class, along with Tom and Heidi, gathered to celebrate what would have been her 11th birthday," he said.

"The best word for Tom would have been 'inspirational', and I think other parents took strength from his strength.

"We'll all miss him."

Belfast Telegraph

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