Schoolgirl Kerrie Canning's sudden death leaves Northern Ireland community in shock
A Northern Ireland community has been left devastated by the sudden death of a popular schoolgirl.
Kerrie Canning (18) from Glenshane Road in Claudy, Co Londonderry, will be laid to rest this morning following requiem mass in St Patrick's Church in the village.
The Year 14 pupil at St Mary's College in Londonderry and keen Gaelic footballer had planned to follow her older sister Nikki into a career in nursing.
Claudy's parish priest Fr David O'Kane told the Belfast Telegraph: "It's a terribly sad loss and the young people are all devastated.
"Kerrie attended secondary school here in Claudy for five years and then moved to Derry to do her A-levels. She was a very popular and outgoing young girl and seemed to be very happy go lucky.
"Her school friends have all been at the family home over recent days and it's a very sad scene. The Cannings are a very close-knit family and it will be a tough funeral."
Kerrie is survived by her parents Martine and Willie, sister Nikki, grandmothers, grandfather and a wide family circle.
In a statement, St Mary's College, an all-girls' school based on Londonderry's Northland Road, described her as "a popular and well-respected student in her peer group".
A spokesperson said: "It is with profound sadness that we learned of the sudden passing of Kerrie Canning, our esteemed Year 14 pupil. Kerrie joined the St Mary's family in September 2016 from St Patrick's and St Brigid's, Claudy, choosing to study art, religious studies and health and social care.
"She always had a glowing smile and an infectious laugh that could warm any heart.
"Kerrie showed great potential and had set her sights on studying nursing at Queen's University.
"St Mary's College and the wider community send their deepest condolences to the family and friends of Kerrie at this difficult time; we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
"May her gentle soul rest in perfect peace."
Kerrie was a member of Claudy John Mitchel's GAC. The club said it was deeply saddened to learn of her passing. "Nothing will make the pain of Kerrie's passing any easier on her family or on the many young people who valued her friendship. On behalf of everyone in John Mitchel's GAC, we extend our sincerest sympathies and our heartfelt prayers to Kerrie's entire family," a club member said.
Kerrie's funeral will take place at St Patrick's Church, Claudy, with requiem mass this morning at 11am followed by interment in the adjoining cemetery.