THE heartbroken parents of Bethany Cousins, the 11-year-old Lurgan girl who died on a family holiday at Portballintrae on Sunday, have paid tribute to the daughter they buried yesterday (Wednesday).
Bethany was enjoying an afternoon on the beach with her mum and dad, Ruth and Alistair, when she got into difficulties in the sea. However the best efforts of her family and emergency services were unable to save her.
Bethany’s mother Ruth said her daughter was everything she could have wanted and she would always hold a place in her family’s hearts. She said: “If you could write down 100 things you want in a daughter that was her. I know a lot of people say this, but I can honestly say she never gave us a day’s trouble in her life.
“I would have described her as a quiet child, but when you hear some of the stories from her friends she was anything but. She was an outgoing girl and was at the age she was starting to find her independence.”
Her dad Alistair said: “She always had a smile on her face. She was a model daughter. She was so pleasant and so helpful.”
Bethany was the middle child of three belonging to the Glenwood Park couple. She has an older brother Alex, 14 and younger brother Ben, 8.
Ruth said: “It was the first day of our holiday. We’ve always loved the north coast. We usually go a bit earlier but we waited until Alex came back from Scout camp in Torquay on Saturday.”
Bethany and Ben had been bodyboarding when Bethany got swept away by the current. Upon realising something was wrong Alistair swam out to his daughter and fought the current to carry her back to the beach. The emergency services were quickly on the scene just after 2pm on Sunday and Bethany was taken to Causeway Coast Hospital in Coleraine where she died later that evening.
Ruth and Alistair paid tribute to the paramedics and hospital staff who fought to save Bethany right through until 9pm. They also thanked the Coastguard, police and people on the beach for their help and kindness.
Bethany had finished King’s Park Primary School in June and was due to start Lurgan Junior High School.
Ruth said: “She couldn’t wait to start the Junior High. We got the letter a couple of weeks ago to tell us she was going into one of the top classes. It really didn’t surprise us.”
The 11-year-old loved cycling, especially since it was a hobby that brought her closer to nature. “She loved nature and loved animals,” her mum told the Lurgan Mail.
Bethany had followed in her mother’s footsteps as a member of High Street Methodist Girls Brigade and Lurgan Ladies Hockey Club, where she had played since Primary Three.
“I called her my mini-me,” said Ruth. “She looks like me and did all the things that I did. She was a better version of me though. We’ll remember her in our hearts for ever.”
Speaking at Bethany’s funeral in Shankill Parish Church, Lurgan, yesterday (Wednesday), the Rev Geoff Wilson told mourners that they were gathered “because little Beth touched our lives and our hearts in some special way. I want to suggest to you that Beth was a VIP, a Very Important Person to each and every one of us”.
And Mr Wilson added: “Today we celebrate and give thanks for her short life and we can do so with joy in our hearts as well as tears in our eyes, because we know that death is not the end for little children and those who know and love the Lord Jesus.”
The PSNI said yesterday it was appealing for witnesses following the death of the 11-year-old girl at Runkerry Beach in Portballintrae on Sunday to call 0845 600 8000 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.