The heartbroken fiancee of a Glengormley man slipped the ring on his finger today - at his funeral instead of their wedding - with the music intended for their first dance playing in the background.
Electrician Matt Campbell, 24, was working as a contractor for NI Water at a water pumping station at Slieve Gullion Forest Park in south Armagh when a tree was blown down on him during Storm Ali last Wednesday.
His fiancee Robyn Newberry was due to pick up their wedding rings the day after he died, in preparation for their big day.
But instead of exchanging the rings during their wedding in August next year, to mark the start of their new life together, she partnered him at the front of a Ballyclare funeral home today, placing the ring on his finger as her final goodbye.
In the background the music playing was ‘Close your eyes’ by Michael Buble, which was to be the music for their first dance on their wedding day.
Matt’s father Mark Campbell told the News Letter that there had been a massive turn-out of people to show their respects - well over 500.
“We would have been proud to have Robyn as our daughter in law along with their mad dog Willow, who Matthew loved,” he told mourners, who had been asked to wear bright colours.
Many wore tops and scarves belonging to Liverpool FC, Matt’s favourite team.
Matt met his fiancee, “the love of his life”, when he was 18, his father said.
“It was obvious from the start he loved her. He proposed 8 months later on Christmas Day their relationship developed quickly. He loved Robyn with all his heart they were well suited to each other. He never stopped talking about her.”
The tragedy of his death had still not really been taken in by his father.
“I cannot believe I am standing here today talking about our big son Robert Matthew Campbell. Born on 1st may 1994... My beloved son in whom I am well pleased – my dad said this about me all my life I said the same to Matthew.”
He described his son as a “hard working, well mannered, loving and all round great guy who was not frightened to express or show his affections to those close to him. We are immensely proud of him.”
The response from his wide circle of friends made a huge impact on his family.
“The tributes in the last few days from friends, school teachers, colleagues, ex colleagues, employers, schools, friends, neighbours and many many others are testament to the type of young man he was. I just wish he was here to see it with his big smile radiating, his ginger hair and ginger beard. I cannot stop crying while writing this.
He was polite, kind, loving, generous and a true friend to all.
“We as a family are absolutely and utterly devastated at Matthew’s death. We will miss his witty jokes, his hugs and kisses and his firm handshake. There is so much we could say about our son he made us so proud in the way he conducted himself, his work ethic his ability to show affection and to make us all laugh we love you son and will miss you dearly.”
He added: “The day before Matthew died I had a minor car accident in East Belfast, I put a comment about it on our family thread on Messenger... about a half an hour later Matthew rang me, he was annoyed he had not seen the thread at the time but he said he was so busy and apologised, I said son no-one was injured and the insurance will sort it out and for him not to worry. This was the last time I spoke to Matthew, our last words where ones we always said, ‘Love you son’ to which he replied ‘Love you dad’. I will miss this so much.”
Mark said he would do anything to bring his son back.
“Pamela [Matt’s mum] and I have worked and saved hard all our lives and we have a comfortable lifestyle but we would give all this away including our own lives just to have Matthew back – material things mean nothing.”
• Matt’s sister Ashley also read a poem to mourners that he had written about Robyn;-
My love, your eyes
All beautiful things
I have thought of
Since I caught a glimpse
I love thy presence
Ever since I noticed
My stomach has butterflies
When I see you Laugh
Or just being daft
You are my whole life
Someone I intend on committing
So please My love
Indulge my commitment
With a smile,
A tear of joy
As we walk down that aisle
To the start of Forever.