Laid to rest in a tiny pink coffin: family and friends say farewell to little Lucy
Devastated family and friends yesterday said an emotional farewell to an eight-year-old girl who died from a one-in-four-million condition.
Lucy Parke from Ballyward, Co Down, had a rare disease that meant her little body aged much more quickly than those of her peers.
She was diagnosed with Hutchinson Gilford progeria syndrome shortly after birth.
Children affected can age up to eight times faster than normal.
There are only 144 known cases worldwide.
Lucy's parents Stephanie and David revealed the heartbreaking news of her death on Facebook on New Year's Day.
She passed away peacefully surrounded by her family.
In a statement, the family said: "We have lost our precious Lucy.
"Her body was weak but her heart was strong.
"Her love for life and wonderful smile made us proud to be her parents."
Hundreds of mourners attended her funeral at Drumlee Presbyterian Church, where Lucy was buried in a small pink coffin with rainbows dotted across it.
Rev Russell Edgar led the service.
Last night he told the Belfast Telegraph: "It was a hard day for the family.
"But it was also a great testimony to who Lucy was, and her faith in the Lord.
"Obviously the family are devastated at the loss of their little girl, but, in terms of the whole service, I think they could rejoice in the fact that she had a wonderful life, and we believe that she is safe at home with the Lord."
Her family set up the Lucy Parke Progeria Fund to help improve her life, as well as receiving "prayerful support" from Drumlee Presbyterian Church throughout her short life.
She is survived by her parents and her siblings Jake, Jenny and Ben.
Stephanie and David also revealed a special message they penned for Lucy.
They wrote: "Our special girl could fight no more,
"Her body was weak but her heart was strong,
"Her love for life and wonderful smile,
"Made us proud to be her parents.
"We have lost our precious Lucy,
"The past year was hard and our hearts are broken,
"And tears are flowing.
"Just photos, videos and memories left. But your life was not in vain,
"We know you are in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ.
"We are so thankful for everything you have taught us, the hugs, the laughs and smiles you gave us.
"The last eight years have been amazing, thank you Lucy and thank you God. We will miss you every single day. Daddy, Mummy, Jake, Jenny and Ben."