THE community of Ballykeel, on Thursday evening, turned out for a vigil to rally round the family of 12-year-old Brooke Reid who tragically died in a house fire in the Ballymena estate.
There were heartbreaking scenes at people joined with the family of the Dunclug College schoolgirl.
The community gathering took place just a short distance from the scene of the tragedy which happened on Wednesday evening.
Rev Marty McNeely of Ballykeel Presbyterian Church told the vigil Brooke had died in a “tragic accident”.
He said the area had suffered other tragedies in recent months and years.
Rev McNeely said Brooke was “so loved and popular”.
A minute’s silence was held and a piper played a lament and prayers were said for relatives particularly Brooke’s father and mother Geoff and Martha.
Rev McNeely said the family had asked him to thank a number of organisations including the PSNI, Fire Service, other emergency services; representatives from Dunclug College; Harryville Homers football team and journalists for sensitive way they had covered the tragedy.
Brooke’s grandfather Billy McMaster also wished to thank everyone from the estate and further afield for their condolences.
Mr McMaster said he was a “devoted” grandfather and he had been left “absolutely devastated” by Brooke’s death.
He told the vigil how Brooke would be his third grandchild which he has laid to rest.
Mr McMaster said Brooke would always be in their “hearts and souls” and he said words could never describe how he felt at her passing.
Mr McMaster added: “I just want to thank everybody in this estate who tried to help out last night. It certainly wasn’t an easy task and there is nobody to blame”.
He wished to praise staff and pupils from Dunclug College who had visited their home and he ended by simply saying: “God bless you Brooke, fly high”.