Sunday’s official opening of the Angel of Hope Garden was a day of mixed emotions.
For those who had helped to raise in the region of £70,000 to build the garden it was a day of celebration, as they viewed what their work had inspired, but for the families of missing loved ones, it was a day of sadness, a day of reflection.
The inner strength of the local mum behind the garden was plain to see as she fought back the tears to dedicate the garden to her little daughter Roma.
Andrea McAleese told the large numbers present that they were proof that there was a need for the garden in Coleraine.
Walking around the garden with a wall of remembrance and a water feature, entitled ‘fountain of life’ it’s hard not think about the large numbers of young people from the Coleraine area who have sadly lost their lives and the families that have been affected.
Telling her tragic story, Andrea recalled: “On March 31, 2009 my life changed.
“One minute I was eating my dinner, the next I was looking at my child lying on the road.
“Without Roma’s death we wouldn’t be here today, there would be no garden, and through this garden I hope that we can all find peace,” she said.
“Every day I do something for my other children, but this garden is something for Roma, it is an everlasting tribute to Roma, it’s something positive out of a terrible tragedy.”
Andrea said that through Roma she has helped other angel families, “I am so glad I got to know you all,” she said.
The angelic voice of Anna McGinley echoed around the garden and brought visitors to a standstill - a little child’s voice singing ‘A Child’s Veil.
‘Even though the rain hides the stars,
‘even though the mist swirls the hills,
‘even when the dark clouds veil the sky,
‘God is by my side.’
Just before the garden was officially opened by former Manchester United and Northern Ireland goal keeper Harry Gregg, white doves, a sign of peace were released.