Tributes expressing the loss felt at the passing of a ‘unique and inspirational woman of faith’ have been pouring in after news that Dromore-born Dean Lynda Patterson has died at her home in New Zealand.
Lynda, a past-pupil of Dromore Central Primary School and Banbridge Academy, where she was head-girl, was ordained the 13th dean of Christchurch Cathedral, New Zealand last year and was the first woman to hold that position.
The Anglican diocese confirmed that she had died of natural causes on Sunday July 20, after a recent illness, aged just 40.
Described by her predecessor as ‘a treasure’, Peter Beck said: “She was an accomplished theologian who spoke in seminaries around the world but had an extraordinary ability to make theology accessible for ordinary folk.
She was an amazing woman who was like a magnet really, and people just got drawn to her.”
But locally too, Lynda touched many lives.
Her father Cedric said he is struggling to ‘get his head round’ what has happened and pick up the pieces.
“She was a great wee girl” he said.
Many remember Lynda attending Dromore Cathedral.
The Venerable Roderic West, Archdeacon of Dromore said: “It with sadness and regret that we have learned of the sudden and untimely death of the Very Revd Lynda Patterson, Dean of Christ Church Cathedral New Zealand.
“Lynda grew up in Dromore and was a member of Dromore Cathedral Parish, attending Church and Sunday School and actively involved in the Girls’ Brigade and the Youth Fellowship.
“She attended Dromore Central Primary School and Banbridge Academy, and then studied theology at Mansfield College, Oxford.
“We express our sincere and heartfelt sympathy to her parents, Cedric and Evelyn, and to all the family”.
Councillor Olive Mercer also extended her sympathy.
“Our thoughts are with Lynda’s family at this time. This is a real tragedy, the death of a talented person at such an early age.”
Local friends paid tribute on Lynda’s Facebook page.
James Black, who attended Primary School and the Academy with Lynda said: “She was our Head Girl and our brightest star - the warmest, smartest and funniest individual one could hope to meet. Everyone in Dromore was very proud of what she achieved and the positive impact she has had on people both at home and in New Zealand. This is such sad news and my thoughts are with Lynda’s friends and family.
Joanne Mateer said: “I was lucky enough to know Lynda at Banbridge Academy and at Oxford. It was clear then she was a real guiding light. She was kind, funny, wise and always herself. The world needs more people like Lynda, not less. Rest in peace”.