Belfast Telegraph

Lough Erne tragedy mum Annette Preston planned to sail Shannon next year, mourners hear

By Eamon Sweeney

Mourners at the funeral of the mother-of-two tragically drowned in a boating accident on Lough Erne heard how her family and a whole community have been left numbed by this unexpected, sudden and tragic death.

Annette Preston (49) fell overboard while trying to step onto a jetty as she and her husband Steven berthed their boat in Enniskillen at around 3am last Saturday.

A passer-by alerted by Mr Preston's calls for help managed to retrieve him from the water but Mrs Preston, an experienced sailor, was unfortunately not able to be saved.

Yesterday's funeral Mass was held at St Mary's Church, Drumragh, near Omagh in Co Tyrone.

Monsignor Joseph Donnelly, who conducted the service, told the congregation of Annette's passion for sailing and that she had planned to cruise the River Shannon next year.

"Annette grew up in a family of three, an older brother and a younger sister," he said. "She went to St Conor's Primary School and later to St Brigid's Secondary School. She took up work upon leaving school, starting off in the Co-op. She later moved to Desmond's Factory and was with them until it closed.

"In the meantime she met Stevie. They fell in love and married in 1998.

"They set up house at Clanabogan Road, their home from then on."

Monsignor Donnelly said Annette's life centred on Stevie and their two children, Stephanie (17) and Andrew (15). "She was always a hard worker and a great lover of nature.

"Her kindly nature extended also to animals who seemed to sense that they were welcome in her company. Annette got great enjoyment in their caravan for years. She looked forward to the time spent there and had equal enthusiasm for the boat on Lough Erne. They planned to cruise the Shannon next year.

"The tragedy of the last few days contrasts very much with Annette's bubbly nature and sense of fun. We may search for answers and just be left at a loss.

"It is our prayer, then, today, for Annette, that the Lord will raise her up and welcome her into his presence. May the Lord also, in his compassion, grant peace and consolation to the family and to all who are burdened with a sense of loss today."

The Monsignor added: "I offer my deepest sympathy and that of the priests of the parish to Annette's husband, Steven, to their family, Stephanie and Andrew, to her father, Vincent, to her sister, Paula, and brother, Tommy, to her father and mother-in-law, John and Sandra, to her brothers-in-law, Ian and Gordon, to the wider family circle and friends and to all who will miss her presence."

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