Belfast Telegraph

'Wonderful' Northern Ireland teacher Colette Clarke laid to rest after cancer battle

Popular: Colette Clarke
Popular: Colette Clarke
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Tributes have been paid to a "courageous" Co Armagh primary school teacher who passed away after a two-year battle with cancer.

Colette Clarke died at home on December 19 with her funeral service held in St Malachy's Church, Armagh, on Saturday on what would have been her 48th birthday.

Colleagues and pupils from St John the Baptist Primary School in Portadown were among hundreds who attended the Requiem Mass conducted by Mrs Clarke's brother, Fr Liam McKinney.

Special flowers were prepared to mark the significance of her birthday, with burial afterwards in St Patrick's Cemetery.

Fr Peter McAnenly, administrator for St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, described Mrs Clarke as a "wonderful, wonderful young woman".

"It's just such a tragedy, as Sunday marked what would have been her fifth wedding anniversary to her husband Noel," he said.

"She and her family were very well-respected by the community.

"The many people visiting the family home and the huge crowds attending St Malachy's were a testament to that."

Mrs Clarke's ill health had initially forced her away from the classroom, but she had been able to return for a period this year to her school.

"She was a very giving person and a girl of tremendous faith, that was a source of great strength for her," added Fr McAnenly.

Throughout her extensive medical treatment Mrs Clarke often spoke out about the importance of donating blood, sharing her own experiences on social media.

In July she posted a heartfelt message to thank the many friends, relatives and healthcare workers who cared for her.

Tributes to the popular teacher continued to flood in on social media throughout the weekend.

One woman commented: "Colette was an inspiration of courage and faith."

Belfast Telegraph

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