The Markethill community has rallied round to help the fiance and young family of Tanya Nesbitt, the mother-of-four tragically killed in a car crash.
The schools attended by the 31-year-old’s children are helping the youngsters cope with their grief as they return to class after the tragedy.
A Jusgtgiving appeal has been set up to support the family in the difficult days ahead, and Little Blessings Daycare Nursery which Tanya’s youngest child attends is also holding a fundraising day.
Tanya died in the Royal Victoria Hospital last Wednesday, six days after the accident on the Gosford Road, leaving the close-knit community in shock.
Markethill PS principal Jim Richardson said nine-year-old Cody had returned to school on Monday, at his own request, and his classmates were supporting him.
He said: “We are trying to manage a sensitive bereavement situation by keeping it as close to normality as possible for him. He is being very brave and it is not easy for him.
“The class gave him a book with expressions of sympathy and remembrance over the weekend and his dad Paul said it was a real source of support and comfort for him.”
Mr Richardson taught Tanya in P7 and described her as “a lovely, lovely girl”. He added, “She was effervescent and bubbly with a positive attitude and was always full of fun. She got on well with everybody. Her death has devastated the school.”
Mr Richardson also taught Cody’s older brothers, Josh and Zac, who now attend Markethill High School. He said, “Cody is a great lad, very people oriented, like his mum.
“Josh and Zac are great lads too. The school has always had close contact with the family. A tragedy like this puts things in perspective.”
Tanya worked part-time at the Courtrooms Restaurant in Markethill, where her mother Noeleen also used to work. William Johnston, chairman of Markethill District Enterprises, which owns and runs the restaurant, knew Tanya very well and described her as “very bright and bubbly”.
He said, “She was very popular with the customers and staff. She had a word for everybody. She was always in good form, full of life, very organised and good at making decisions.”
Mr Johnston, who is also chairman of the Board of Governors of both schools, said the family would need all the support it could get in the coming months. “It’s an unbelievably sad situation. Our hearts go out to them. Tanya will be greatly missed not only by her family but by the community in general.”
The Justgiving initiative has been organised by Natalie Hayes, who has set a target of £5,000. She wrote, “Tanya was an amazing girl who touched the lives of so many and her death has left the community in shock.
“I felt I needed to do something to help so have set this fundraising page up so maybe life can be made a little easier for them in the difficult times that lie ahead.”
Principal of Markethill High School James Maxwell said the school will be supporting Josh and Zac in every way possible. He added, “Tanya was a highly regarded past pupil of Markethill High School who is remembered with great fondness by those who taught her and came into contact with her during her school days.
“The school extends its deepest sympathies to the family circle which remains firmly in our thoughts and prayers at this time.”
Tanya was laid to rest after a funeral service at Markethill Elim Pentecostal Church on Saturday, with more than 700 people turning out to pay their respects.
Pastor Ian Stevenson said the huge turnout was testament to the love and esteem in which she and her family were held.
Tanya is survived by her fiance Paul, children Josh, Zac, Cody and Paige, parents Granville and Noeleen, her brother Adam and his partner Linda.