Belfast Telegraph

Funeral of tragic student Neil McFerran

By John McGurk

A heartbroken brother’s undying love spoke volumes for mourners at the funeral of suspected carbon monoxide leak victim Neil McFerran on Saturday.

Stephen McFerran’s touching tribute to his brother Neil came as part of Rathcoole came to a standstill in tribute to the tragic 18-year-old who died alongside best pal Aaron Davidson.

The teenagers died in a holiday apartment, owned by Aaron’s aunt, in the north coast seaside village of Castlerock last Tuesday.

Their friend, 18-year-old Matthew Gaw, survived the effects of the suspected gas leak after the teenagers’ frantic parents broke into the apartment — alerted by his confused conversation during a mobile phone call.

Tragically they were too late to save two of the boys — finding Aaron lying on the settee and Neil on the kitchen floor.

Neil’s mum Catherine agonisingly revealed those terrible moments when they desperately tried to revive the boys.

Catherine said: “We just started mouth-to-mouth and kept working on him and Aaron’s mummy and daddy were working on him.

“You read these stories and you hear these things on the news and you think, ‘I hope this never happens to my children’.”

And yesterday one of Neil’s older brothers, Stephen, told mourners at Newtownabbey Methodist Mission in Rathcoole just how special his brother was.

Stephen said: “The truth is Neil was so perfect and if I was half the person he was, I would be very proud of myself.”

And he added of the talented actor, singer and youth club volunteer: “He brought people together with his love, always smiling, giving hugs, teaching us the value of youth and how important it is to stay young at heart — to be happy, live life and enjoy it.”

It is understood that Neil’s grief-stricken mum Catherine was too upset to attend the burial at Carnmoney Cemetery yesterday.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, survivor Matthew Gaw spoke for the first time about his love for his childhood pals.

Grief-stricken Matthew said: “You could trust them with anything. They were kind and nice to everyone they met. You always had a good laugh to be around them.

“We always did silly things together, always had a lot of fun.

“Neil was so outgoing, probably the most outgoing person you could ever meet. He would make friends with anyone.

“And Aaron, he was pretty much the same and very easy to get on with, very approachable.

“If ever something was wrong and you needed to talk to somebody, I could have gone to both of them.

“Whenever my granny died a few weeks ago, Aaron actually texted me to say if I needed to talk, to just go on round. That was the sort of person he was....genuine.”

Matthew’s mum Dawn spoke of the conflicting emotions her and husband Raymond feel after the tragedy.

“We are just so grateful. The ambulance man said to me, ‘You don’t know how lucky you are’. But I don’t think luck comes into that.

“You don’t feel lucky when you know that these two boys lost their lives.

“Luck isn’t how we feel. We thank God for sparing him. But, at the same time, we are devastated because we could have been so easily in their position.”

The funeral of Aaron Davidson will take place at the Church of the Ascension tomorrow morning at 11.30am.

Castlerock paid its own tribute to the boys yesterday. Hundreds of people attending a village fair stood for a minute’s silence as a mark of respect.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph