Those closest to Ulster Rugby star Nevin Spence have paid tribute to him ahead of the five-year anniversary of his tragic death in a farming accident that also claimed the lives of his brother Graham and father Noel.
The deaths of Nevin, aged 22, Graham, aged 30, and Noel Spence, aged 52, in a farming accident involving a slurry tank at their Drumlough Road farm on September 15, 2012 was a triple tragedy that reverberated around Northern Ireland.
To mark the loss of one of their most promising young players, Ulster Rugby have released a video entitled ‘Nevin Spence, Always With Us’ containing touching tributes from those closest to him, including his sister Emma.
“The impact of what has happened has shown the sort of person that he was,” Emma said.
She spoke fondly about her brother’s light-hearted nature: “He had no airs and graces about himself. Nevin growing up, he was one of these kids who, you know, for me took great pride in being the annoying wee brother.
“He would have been trying to be up to tricks. Nevin and Graham and even my dad were always up for a wee bit of banter and a laugh.
“Sometimes when I see a group of boys laughing together and playing tricks on each other, I do just sort of smile because that was so them. They enjoyed life.” She said his sporting prowess was apparent even from a young age. “Nevin was one of these ones that was sickeningly good at everything. He was good at every sport that he touched.
“He was even good at drawing and painting. Anything that he put his hand to, he was good at.”
His former school teachers and coaches are also quoted.
Charlie McAleese, from Dromore High School where Nevin Spence studied for his GCSEs, said: “As he bedded into school it became apparent this guy was strong, he was quick, he was modest, he was humble. He was just an outstanding guy from early doors.”
A talented soccer player as well as a rugby player at a young age, Nevin also represented Northern Ireland at youth level.
His former Northern Ireland under 16s coach, Robert Gililand, described the conversation he had with a young Nevin Spence about focussing on rugby.
Mr Gililand said: “Through his passion for sport and through his sheer eagerness to be the best that he could be, the rest is history.”