The funeral of a Queen’s University student who died after falling ill from a severe allergic reaction heard how he was a genuine, gracious, warm and charming young man.
Kuba (Jakub) Bednarz (21), originally from Poland, passed away on Wednesday having been in intensive care at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast since March.
He was due to sit his final exam before graduating in Music and Audio Production on Monday.
Jakub’s parents, Pieter and Beata, along with his girlfriend Nuala, placed mementoes of his life beside his coffin during the service at Christ the King Church, Strathroy, Co Tyrone, on Sunday afternoon.
Mourners were told by Fr Kevin McElhennon how Jakub had lived in Northern Ireland since he was two years old, but had never forgotten his roots.
His mother placed a Poland international football shirt in memory, his father placed his beloved drumsticks and his girlfriend a teddy bear to show the love he had for his family.
Jakub’s younger brother Simon read a message to those watching in Poland, introducing Jakub’s grandparents and other family members who had been unable to attend in person, and also placed Jakub’s favourite cap beside the coffin.
“These items are a reminder of all the things Jakub loved in his life,” said Fr McElhannon.
“All the words spoken about Jakub over these last few weeks, and the tributes in the last few days, speak of a remarkable young man. He radiated an extreme degree of maturity and wisdom for one so young.
“He had a remarkably positive outlook on life. He was destined to do well in whatever he chose to do and to make a mark on the world.
“He carried the three things that meant so much to him with him at all times.
"A small tattoo on his wrist was of the symbols he held so dearly: A beating heart for the love he showed his family and his friends, a treble clef for his love for a remarkable talent for music and a crucifix, for his faith in God.
“He was so close to achieving his degree, due to graduate in a few short weeks’ time, but he was already leaving his mark.”
The priest told mourners how Jakub loved writing songs and recalled how some of them had already been played on Manhattan FM in New York City.
"Another of his remarkable achievements for one so young,” he continued.
“Creative bright and intelligent, Jakub was excited to be on the threshold of a new chapter in his life."
Jakub had been fighting for his life in the RVH since March 25 having suffered a cardiac arrest linked to a severe allergic reaction.
Fr McElhennon added: “We know he suffered allergies all through his short life. But we are all the poorer for having lost Jakub so suddenly at such a young age.
”We should not be asking why – we should be thankful for the blessings we received, that he was part of our lives, even for such a short time.”
Over the last few weeks, Jakub’s friends had helped to raise more than £27,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to pay for specialist treatment in Poland.
Jakub previously attended Christ the King Primary School and the Christian Brothers’ Grammar School (CBS) in Omagh.
Omagh CBS said: “Jakub was a much-loved and highly respected pupil at the Christian Brothers’ Grammar School between September 2012 and June 2019, when he left to study Music and Audio Production at Queen’s University Belfast.
“He was a diligent, determined and conscientious pupil with an infectious and engaging warmth that made him extremely popular with his peers and staff alike. He was sincere, good-natured and always generous with his time, voluntarily assisting at many school events over those seven years.
“As a school community we pray for the repose of Jakub’s soul and extend our deepest sympathies to Jakub’s family at this very difficult time.
“His gentle and unassuming nature will ensure that he will always be remembered with great fondness and affection by all of us who knew him.”