Moving funeral for 'very special, loving boy' Daniel Bradley
Tribute as road victim Daniel (8) is laid to rest
Mourners at the funeral of Daniel Bradley heard the eight-year-old, who was knocked down and killed last week, was a "special child who taught us all that love and care were the most important things in life".
Hundreds of people packed into St Patrick's Church in Maghera yesterday for the Mass of the Angels to celebrate the youngster's life.
Daniel died in the accident on the Glenshane Road last Thursday.
Children from Kilronan Primary School stood in silence as the small white coffin arrived at the church.
Daniel's mother Janice and father James walked behind the hearse with their daughters Lucy, Emily and Katy.
Emily clutched a small teddy bear as her parents carried their son's coffin into the packed rural church.
Mourners spilled out into the car park and stood in driving rain as parish priest Father Patrick Doherty told the congregation that Daniel was a "friend to God" and was now among the saints.
"Daniel was a special child," he said.
"He was a child to whom God was very close.
"He was so young and yet contributed so much to family and community.
"So young, and yet he completed the work that God had for him.
"He is someone today that we know for sure is among the saints. That is Daniel.
"At just eight years of age, he was taken so quickly from us with nobody at fault. It's hard to believe."
Fr Doherty told those gathered that Daniel, who was autistic and had difficulties with communication, knew he was greatly loved.
"Special children possess qualities of welcome, wonderment, spontaneity and directness, and Daniel had all of those in his life," he added.
"Special children are able to touch hearts and call others to unity through their simplicity, innocence and vulnerability.
"They are always a reminder to the world and to us of the essential values of the heart, of what is important in life - love, care, appreciation.
"Daniel always attracted your attention. You had to take notice of him, because he was a prophet. A prophet among us.
"He always called us to think and to stop and reflect on the meaning of life. Because he was untouched by the world.
"Simple and innocent, and he reached out to everyone without exception, he had no labels, he loved all.
"And although he wasn't able to communicate much in words, he sang, he drew, he made signs.
"He expressed love, because love doesn't need words. He loved all. He loved his parents, he loved his sisters, his grandparents and his family and he was able to express that very simply by the heart. He was called affectionately 'Dan the Man'."
Fr Doherty said that eight years ago God visited Daniel's parents James and Janice "with a special gift".
"In many ways it was life-changing, but very precious. And now God's gift is returning back to him," he said.
"He gave that gift for this length of time, that gift that will last forever in your hearts. He was God's friend as well as ours, and friends cannot be kept apart from each other for too long.
"He kept everyone on their toes. He was full-time.
"But we were lifted up by enthusiasm, cheered by his smile, his fun and warmed by his friendship. And we are grateful today for all he has taught us. For he taught us what was important and of the simple things in life."
After communion a poem was read out from the altar that depicted Daniel and Peter Pan flying through Neverland, "hearing his Daddy playing music" and "seeing his Mummy blowing him a kiss".
It told his parents to look to the sky and when they see "a shining star burning bright, know that is Peter Pan and Dan the Man".
It read: "There are no weird sounds here, nothing hurts my ears. I look around and I can tell, I'm going to like it here.
"Peter points across the clouds, you wouldn't believe what I can see. I have my very own forest and one apple tree.
"And in the distance, oh my what could it be. It's the biggest box of Lego I have ever seen."
Daniel's favourite song, Coldplay's Fix You, which he sang with his father in a social media video just weeks ago, was sung as the child's coffin was carried down the church aisle by his parents to be buried in the adjoining cemetery.