Funeral for teacher Barney Dobbin who died climbing in Ecuador
The funeral will take place this morning of Randalstown schoolteacher Barney Dobbin, who died last week following a climbing accident in South America.
Speaking on behalf of the family, local councillor Henry Cushinan said they wished to express their deep gratitude to the Kevin Bell Trust for its assistance in bringing the body of the 25-year-old home.
"The family will have a difficult day ahead, but they were just so relieved to have him home on Thursday," he said.
"But they wish to pay a special tribute to the Kevin Bell Trust for all their wonderful efforts in helping to make all the necessary arrangements during what has been a very difficult and sad time for them.
"It can be extremely difficult when a tragedy like this happens so far away and the family wish to repay that kindness with donations in lieu of flowers towards the trust so other families who might be in the same position can be helped in such a dignified way.
"Everyone has rallied around to support them and they also wish to express their thanks to all those who have contacted them and helped with the wake, particularly so close to Christmas.
"Having that support has been a great comfort."
Mr Dobbin was killed after reaching the summit of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador - the Continent's highest mountain and known as the closest place on Earth to space - leaving his family devastated.
A former pupil of Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt, he had spent the past two years working as a teacher in The British School in Quito.
The funeral will leave his late Artlone Road residence, in the townland of Cargin between Toome and Randalstown, today at 10.15am to Sacred Heart Church for 11am Requiem Mass, with interment afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.
Mr Dobbin is survived by his father Brian, mother Rome and brothers Paddy and Joe.