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Teen’s death brings together hundreds at moving service

by Randy Bennett
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Despite succumbing to cancer, warrior princess Niamh Soraya Stoute’s fight was not in vain.

Niamh, who would have celebrated her 17th birthday today, was laid to rest following a moving ceremony at the Abundant Life Assembly.

The former student of the Christ Church Foundation School lost her battle with neuroblastoma on January 14.

While those who gathered to pay their final respects donned bright colours, Niamh’s family members and close friends wore blue, one of Niamh’s favourite colours.

Delivering the sermon to the hundreds who packed the church at Bank Hall, St Michael including Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Donna Babb-Agard; Ministers Kirk Humphrey and Wilfred Abrahams and Justices Barry Carrington and Cicely Chase, Reverend Kevin Hunte said that while Niamh’s stay on earth was not lengthy, her death was purposeful.

Family and friends gathered at the Abundant Life Assembly to pay their final respects to Niamh Stoute (inset).

“…Each and everyone of us was born with a purpose and for some reason Niamh’s purpose was to carry this illness. And in carrying this illness she achieved something extremely powerful and I want the young people in here to listen closely; she achieved the ability to bring all of us together in this place, on her birthday to contemplate when our time comes to pass through death’s door,” the reverend explained.

“God used her sickness and her eventual death to cause all of us whom he loves to sit here this afternoon and to begin to ask ourselves some internal questions…Niamh made her calling and her election sure, but what about you?”

The reverend urged those present to take a leaf from her book.

He said even through sickness Niamh never faltered or complained and never gave up hope.

Hunte said it was no surprise to learn that her favourite book in the Bible was Job.

“I want to tell you that we can learn from Niamh because Niamh picked up her cross and she embraced it. Many of us, including me, would have been grumbling and complaining and some of us may even have done what Job’s wife wanted him to do, curse God and just die, but Niamh instead worshipped and praised…she expressed faith in God,” the reverend contended.

“That warrior princess picked up her cross of sickness and cancer and she carried it from birth to death and she did it with dignity, grace and strength of character, to bring all of us here to this moment today.”

He reminded the congregation that God’s love transcended death.

In an emotional tribute to her daughter, Petra Gooding said she had lost her first true love and her best friend.

Petra Gooding paying tribute to her daughter Niamh Stoute.

She recalled how they enjoyed eating popcorn and watching movies together, and browsing through social media site Instagram.

She revealed that Niamh had fought valiantly till the end and had showed superhuman strength throughout the ordeal.

“People have always said that I was strong, but I was strong because of her. You never really know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have, but I had to be strong for her.

“Niamh was confident, resilient and loved a challenge. She was beautiful inside and out,” she noted.

Niamh’s father Dale Stoute delivered the eulogy, revealing that his daughter had been diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma at the tender age of six.

He said despite this she had a bubbly personality and loved travelling, sneakers, taking photos and outings with her friends.

Niamh’s father Dale Stoute delivering the eulogy.

Even in her situation, he said Niamh was a giving person who was always willing to make sacrifices.

According to him even when the cancer returned in 2009, she never allowed it to get the best of her.

“Having Niamh here for another ten years after her initial diagnosis was nothing short of a miracle,” he said.

He also used the opportunity to thank everyone who supported his daughter, including those who made donations and offered inspiring words to the family, as well as nurses and doctors who attended to her during her stay at several children’s hospitals.

Niamh was laid to rest at the Coral Ridge Memorial Gardens.
randybennett@barbadostoday.bb

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