‘Heather was a ray of sunshine’

Heather Neill pictured at Lisburn Christian Fellowship on Christmas Day.
Heather Neill pictured at Lisburn Christian Fellowship on Christmas Day.

Former Dromore High School teacher Heather Neill, who was killed in a road crash last weekend, was “a ray of sunshine in an often grey and colourless world”, her funeral service has heard.

Mourners packed into Lisburn Christian Fellowship (LCF) on Saturday morning to give thanks for the life of the 58-year-old mother-of-two, who died after the car she was driving was involved in a collision with a bus on the Moneynick Road, near Randalstown on Sunday, February 11.

Leading the funeral service, Pastor George Hilary said Mrs Neill, a committed Christian and active member of LCF, had enriched the lives of everyone who knew her.

“What can we say about Heather? She was unique. She had flare, creativity and not a little wildness. She was colourful, imaginative and free. And she was also caring and compassionate,” he said.

“Heather was a ray of sunshine - a dash of colour in an otherwise often grey and colourless world.

“She was arty and creative, enthusiastic and imaginative. She saw the potential in people and always thought the best of them.

“I can still see her here on a Sunday morning engaging in worship, unrestricted, waving a flag, praising her God. I don’t know if they have flags in heaven, but if they do they have got a very exuberant new member of their team.”

Referring to her imaginative outreach work, Pastor Hilary continued: “Heather was above all an ideas person. She was a great team member, always thinking of different and new ways of doing things and never satisfied with the status quo.

“She always had lots of ideas flowing through her mind.

“We loved Heather. Her family loved her. Her friends loved her. Her church loved her. We will miss her, but her legacy lives on. She may have been small in physical stature, but by any standard she was a very big woman with a very big heart.

“Heather was a believer in Jesus Christ. And not for her something stuffy and boring, but vibrant and real. She was always ready to share her faith.”

During the service of remembrance and thanksgiving, Heather’s daughter Holly and uncle Alistair also spoke, while words of tribute from her son Scott and husband David were read to the congregation.

Following the service at LCF a service of committal took place at Roselawn Crematorium.

Mrs Neill, who retired last year, taught at Dromore High School for more than three decades and was Head of Business Studies for over 20 years.

There was widespread shock and sadness at the news of her passing, with former colleagues and pupils paying glowing tributes to a much-loved teacher.

The former principal of Dromore High, John Wilkinson, said Mrs Neill had impacted the lives of many young people, both in her classes and as leader of the school’s Scripture Union.

“As a vivacious, fun-loving and extremely caring member of staff she was loved by pupils and staff alike. Her sincere Christian faith and love for all epitomised the way in which she lived out her life,” he said.