Touching funeral for mum Aundrea Bannatyne who bravely battled cancer
A Dundonald mother-of-two who fought a high-profile battle with pancreatic cancer has been remembered as beautiful and inspirational during a poignant funeral service.
Aundrea Bannatyne (43) passed away at the Marie Curie Hospice last Wednesday, just over a year after she was diagnosed.
She hit international headlines as her family searched for a cure to save her life.
Yesterday there was applause of support for her eldest son Jack (14) as he told those gathered for the funeral, on behalf of himself and young brother James (10), "we love you mum, and we are going to miss you so much".
Mourners started arriving at East Belfast Mission at Skainos in east Belfast from noon yesterday to say their final farewells.
While many wore the traditional black, Aundrea's wish for purple attire was honoured with people wearing scarves, ties and even tights in bright shades of the colour.
Extra chairs were laid out in the foyer of the Skainos building but they were still not enough to accommodate the numbers who spilled outside.
Aundrea's white coffin was carried into the building as the ballad Jealous Of The Angels played.
The service was led by Aundrea's great uncle Sam McElveen, who told mourners that her two sons had been the light of her life, and that her greatest regret had been that she would not see them finish school.
He revealed that the first they had known of her illness was that she had a sore back which she had assumed was down to kidney stones. But just a couple of months later to the shock of her family and close friends she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and given just six months to a year to live.
Sam described Aundrea as "magnificent through her living nightmare" and paid tribute to her bravery. He thanked the nurses and staff at the Marie Curie Hospice who he described as caring for Aundrea as tenderly as a member of their own family.
Aundrea's close friend and former Thomas Cook colleague Martin MacLaren also addressed the funeral.
He recalled her career starting as a travel advisor at a shop on the Cregagh Road before rising to a senior position within the company.
Martin said that she was adored by her colleagues and recalled how they would know she was coming by the click of her heels on the shopping centre floor.
He had been part of the admin team who had run the Aundrea's Army Facebook page, and offered his thanks to those who had given support to the family.
The service, which had been carefully planned by Aundrea, included the hymns All Things Bright And Beautiful and Amazing Grace, as well as a performance of the Katy Perry song Fireworks and Somewhere Over The Rainbow, while the congregation were shown a slideshow of photographs of her life.
The busy Newtownards Road came to a standstill after the service when Aundrea's family and friends carried her coffin for a short distance.
Aundrea was then laid to rest by her family and closest friends at Roselawn.
Posting on the Aundrea's Army Facebook page on Sunday night, just hours ahead of the funeral service, her family said they had been inundated with messages from people all over Europe, America and Australia saying they would be wearing purple or lighting a candle in her memory yesterday.