Heartbroken actor James Nesbitt is on his way home to Northern Ireland today following the death of his mother May.
The 79-year-old died peacefully in hospital on Friday night. She had been suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease.
Her 47-year-old actor son has been filming in Wellington, New Zealand, where he is playing Bofur in the film of JRR Tolkien’s fantasy epic The Hobbit.
Mr Nesbitt is expected to reach his parents’ Co Londonderry home tomorrow in time for a service of thanksgiving at Castlerock Presbyterian Church on Wednesday.
His wife Sonia and daughters Mary and Peggy had moved to Wellington to be with him during the year-long shoot which will soon end.
Friends in the Coleraine area have been sending the actor their condolences by text and phone.
Radio Ulster DJ Alan Simpson, who is closely associated with Coleraine Football Club where Mr Nesbitt is a patron, said he had texted his sympathy to his friend. Mr Simpson was one of many to pay a warm tribute.
“She was a lovely lady and I was very fond of her. She was a great woman,” he said.
Colin McKendry, chairman of Coleraine Football Club, added: “I think it’s very sad and the people of Coleraine will be feeling for Mr Nesbitt, James and his sisters.”
May and her husband James senior also had three daughters, Margaret, Catherine and Andrea.
James Nesbitt has been in New Zealand for the past year filming The Hobbit, which will be his most high-profile film yet. In a production video recorded last week, Nesbitt takes fans on a tour of his trailer, festooned with green, white and orange streamers and photographs of Northern Ireland’s north coast.