Obituary - Rachel White



Over 500 celebrate 'short but beautiful life' of young woman killed in car crash.

Date: 25 July 2008 By Gillian Halliday (Portadown Times)

The minister who conducted the funeral service of the 21-year-old Tandragee woman killed in a horrific car crash last Thursday described her as a "lovely girl who gave so much in her short life". Rachel White, a former pupil of Tandragee Junior High School and Portadown College, died after the car she was driving was involved in a two-vehicle collision on the Hamiltonsbawn Road. She had only recently graduated from Queen's University in Belfast.

The Rev Sam Black, who officiated the funeral service on Sunday at St Mark's Ballymore Parish Church in Tandragee, said over 500 people attended the service. "It was a very emotional service for everybody," said Mr Black. "The church was overflowing with people of all ages and it was very moving when pictures of Rachel were screened to the congregation. The service was a celebration of Rachel's short but beautiful life, and of someone who had a long road ahead of her."

Mr Black, who helped prepare Rachel for confirmation and had known her for 14 years, revealed her parents, Desmond and Linda, and younger sisters Rebekah and Rhoda, were notified of her death while on holiday in Turkey. "It was horrendous for them," he explained. "They were unable to get a direct flight home, they had to fly to England first, and they arrived home the day after receiving the news in complete distress."

The White family broke the news to Rachel's friends on Bebo, an internet social networking site, in a touching and poignant message which reads; "There are no words to describe how we all feel at this time - you lost a wonderful friend, but we lost a most wonderful daughter and an amazing sister. "Rachel is now safe in the arms of Jesus, but she will always be in our hearts forever."

Many tributes and messages of sympathy from friends have since appeared on Rachel's bebo page – including a poem written by her boyfriend James McKee. One friend writes; "Rachel was an utterly beautiful soul whose sweetness touched everyone she met. God bless and strengthen the White family, I'm praying for you all."

Mr Black, a former rector of St Mark's, said he was not surprised to learn that messages had flooded into her bebo page. "I couldn't imagine anyone not liking Rachel. She was a very popular girl who got on with everyone from all walks of life," she said. "I know she worked at the Spar shop in Tandragee and the staff there attended the funeral and they're devastated by her death. It's dreadful that her life was cut short."

Now retired, Mr Black carried out the service in place of current rector, the Rev Shane Forster, who was in Europe at the time of the tragedy but was notified of Rachel's death. Speaking to the Portadown Times since his return, Mr Forster said the thoughts and prayers of the Ballymore church family were with Rachel's family at this difficult time. "She was a much cherished daughter and sister. Rachel was a Sunday School teacher and she played a big part in the life of Ballymore Parish. She will be greatly missed,” he said. Rachel was interred in St Mark’s Ballymore Parish Churchyard.