Belfast Telegraph

Police hero who died at Belfast marathon to be laid to rest

By Donna Deeney

The funeral of a hero PSNI officer who died at the Belfast City Marathon will take place tomorrow.

Stephen Heaney from Limavady, Co Londonderry, collapsed around five miles into Monday's race.

Mr Heaney took ill near the Sydenham bypass and passed away in hospital a short time later.

His funeral will take place at Christ Church in his home town of Limavady at 2pm tomorrow, followed by interment in the adjoining churchyard.

Mr Heaney, who was a serving police officer in the town, was honoured in 2009 when he was presented with a Royal Humane Society bravery award for rescuing a man from a burning building.

Mr Heaney was a father of two girls, Rebecca and Victoria, who are being comforted as they struggle to come to terms with their loss.

On her Facebook page, Victoria paid tribute to her father, writing: "I hoped that today [Tuesday] I would have been congratulating you on completing your first marathon.

"God had other plans and decided to take away the best man of my life, a role model through being a dad, a supporter, a sports player and a gentleman to everyone he crossed.

"Rest easy daddy, I love you so much and I'm so proud of you."

News of Mr Heaney's death was met with sadness and shock in Limavady, including at the gym where he was a member. Pulse Fitness has cancelled all classes this week as a mark of respect.

The club wrote on its Facebook page: "What a team we are - true friendships have been formed over the years at Pulse, we are always there to support and encourage each other.

"Today was probably one of the toughest days for us all. Our day started with so much excitement but unfortunately ended with broken hearts.

"We lost our special friend, who will always be remembered forever. RIP Stephen."

Mr Heaney was a popular figure among those who knew him.

One man who knew him for many years described him as "one of the best".

He added: "He was one of the most decent human beings you would meet anywhere, one of the best for sure.

"He was the kind of man who would give you the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it and it wouldn't cause him a thought.

"It was such a shock hearing he had died - the whole of Limavady has been talking about it. It is so awful."

Belfast Telegraph

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