THE death of a six-year-old boy was not a farming accident but an undiagnosed heart condition, his mother has revealed.
Little Harry Starrett was found dead by his grandfather in the milking parlour of his farm on the Ballynahonemore Road shortly after 5pm on Tuesday.
Following a post-mortem on Wednesday morning, his family have confirmed that an underlying health condition was the cause.
His heartbroken family, including mum Alison and dad Mark, paid tribute to Harry as a lovely little daddy’s boy who loved farming.
“Every mother should hold their child close tonight,” said Harry’s devastated mum Alison.
Harry was the eldest of four children and a big brother to five-year-old Ben and two small sisters – Rachel, three, and Phoebe who is just two.
Canon John McKegney was with the family last night and said it was “heart-breaking for such a lovely family and for such a tragedy to befall them”.
He added that they were finding the sudden loss of Harry impossible to take in.
“The one source of strength is that they’re a very strong family, a very supportive family – they’re there for each other. But they’re in unchartered waters,” Canon McKegney said.
“No one expects to lose a child.”
The minister explained that Harry had gone into the farm’s milking parlour ahead of his grandfather, in preparation for the cows coming in to be milked.
His grandfather followed him in almost immediately, but the little boy was already dead on the floor.
“The grandfather lost a son some years ago in a road accident – he was buried on Christmas Eve. That was his eldest son and this is his eldest grandson,” Canon McKegney added.
“It really is a great tragedy for the family.”
Local DUP councillor Freda Donnelly, who knows the family well, said the loss was any parent’s worst nightmare.
“The wee boy himself was a lovely wee boy, just a happy wee boy – absolutely loved farming. He will be such a huge loss to his family,” Ms Donnelly said.
“He was helping out on his grandfather’s farm – the family actually live quite close to the grandfather. It’s a huge devastation.
“Words won’t relay how much people are thinking about them and praying for them at this difficult time.”
A PSNI spokesperson confirmed that police and the Northern Ireland Health and Safety Executive had attended the scene of the sudden death of a child.
Lord Mayor of Armagh Robert Turner said local people were in a state of shock.
“I want to, on behalf of the entire community, extend my heartfelt sympathy to the family. I will be visiting the family home later today,” said the Ulster Unionist councillor.
“A little boy of six-years-old on the family farm – parents very proud, grandparents very proud of this wee boy carrying on the family tradition, and for something like this to happen …
“It’s unbelievable and no one can imagine how the family feel at this time.”