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Priest warns of motorsport dangers at funeral of nine-year-old boy

The coffin of Charlie Joyce, nine, is carried into All Saints’ Church in Ballymena (Liam McBurney/PA)
The coffin of Charlie Joyce, nine, is carried into All Saints’ Church in Ballymena (Liam McBurney/PA)

A nine-year-old boy who died after a scrambler bike crash was “full of life”, mourners at his funeral heard, as a priest warned of the dangers of motorsports.

Charlie Joyce’s white coffin was carried into All Saints’ Church in Ballymena, Co Antrim, followed by a large crowd of family and friends.

One mourner carried a red and blue helmet while among the floral tributes on the back of a flatbed lorry was a framed picture of the young boy on a bike.

Charlie was fatally injured in the collision in a park in Ballymena late on Thursday afternoon.

Another boy, aged 13, was taken to hospital after being critically injured in the incident.

Floral tributes accompanied the coffin of Charlie Joyce (Liam McBurney/PA)
Floral tributes accompanied the coffin of Charlie Joyce (Liam McBurney/PA)

Both children are understood to have been riding separate bikes that crashed head-on in the park in the Dunvale area of the town’s Dunclug estate shortly before 5pm.

They were taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, one by air ambulance.

Charlie, who attended St Brigid’s Primary School, died in the early hours of Friday.

Monsignor Patrick Delargy said the child had been “a very active boy, as we all know”, adding that he was “full of life”.

He said Charlie loved animals, especially horses and dogs, and had been a member of All Saints boxing club since the age of three.

The priest said: “He’s remembered there as a very happy, enthusiastic boy. He was a good lad. He looked forward to a promising future.”

Mourners at the funeral heard that Charlie was
Mourners at the funeral heard that Charlie was ‘very active'(Liam McBurney/PA)

Fr Delargy told the congregation: “He also liked scrambling but we also know that motorbike racing is a dangerous sport.”

He said that while it can be “exciting” it is “also dangerous as well and sometimes we have to recognise that”.

He suggested that “maybe more thought has to be given to biking events and where they take place”.

He added: “We have to remember human life is very fragile, and all sorts of sports, there are all these rules to be kept. But sometimes things happen right out of the blue. And you don’t know how or why. And we’re left to recover from them. And that’s what we’re doing today.”

Fr Delargy said Charlie’s parents Joe and Katie-Marie, as well as his siblings and wider family circle, are “strong and brave” and will be supported by friends in coming to terms with the “terrible blow” of Charlie’s death.

Shortly after the crash, the Police Service of Northern Ireland appealed for anyone who witnessed the collision or who had mobile phone footage to contact officers.