A popular Coleraine man who died during a night out in Portrush was described during his funeral service on Christmas Eve as “one great to be with, a gentle giant and family man who never deserved anything like this.”
Dad of three Colin McLeister (48), died after falling down the stairs at The Playhouse complex in the early hours of December 17.
A 34-year-old man appeared at court in Antrim last week charged with his manslaughter.
Mr McLeister was a popular figure in the community and ran a furniture business, Aladdin’s Cave, in Coleraine.
Speaking to a packed Killowen Parish Church on Christmas Eve, Rev Donard Collins said: “Colin was taken from us at a point in life when hopes were bright, making more immense his sudden and untimely passing from those he knew and loved so well.
“Why should a young man die at a Christmas party for work friends near his own home town?
“We leave justice to do its task...and are gathering here with work colleagues, family and friends to give thanks for Colin and treasure his memory.
“In his stewarding work, which he enjoyed greatly over 20 years - his expertise was recognised, and he was chosen to assist as a steward at 2012 Olympic Games.
The minister offered “prayerful love” to the McLeister family, Colin’s father Derek, brother Adrian, wife Michelle and children Cori, Kasey and Mason.
“Colin’s death - especially at Christmas – shall not be forgotten. Three years [on] from his mother’s loss, this grief is hard to bear. Can God answer when life is taken in a sudden grevious way? Yes, He can.
“For God so loved the world, He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16).”
Beginning his address, Rev Collins said:
“Sift all those stories - gossip now cease Let us remember our loved one in peace
End all the rumours, quiet every pain
May not his life have been taken in vain
Paint bright the tapestry - of his full life It was much richer than momentary strife
Gather all loved ones now to recall How that his love will burn bright in us all
So near to Christmas - Christ help us praise
Trusting your mercy in all of our days
Anger and vengeance and hatred be gone
Let us love Jesus - help us live on.”
He described Colin’s death as a “sad and sudden loss”: “Age 48 is young and ‘Christmas is a time for love’ then genuine love is needed even all the more.
“Jimmy Hendrix looked out at a sad world and said: ‘When the power of love overcomes the love of power - that is when peace begins.’
“These last days have been enriched by touching tributes to Colin – and by tokens of kindness from the community and beyond – to his loved ones.
Alluding to Colin’s vast experience as a door supervisor and steward, Rev Collins drew upon a biblical comparison:
“Jesus is a ‘doorman’ who welcomes others in - ‘See, I stand at the door and knock, if any opens the door and welcomes me, I will come in, and live in them.’”.
Mr McLeister was laid to rest in the adjoining graveyard following the service.
HEARTFELT...A floral tribute in memory of Colin McLeister lies at The Playhouse in Portrush.
PICTURE MARK JAMIESON.