Community pays tribute to school worker found dead at her home

Sarah O'Neill

Sarah O'Neill

First published in News
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A village church was packed for the funeral of a popular former school worker found dead at home last month.

Family, friends and colleagues of Sarah O’Neill filled St James’ Church in Cross Roads for the service.

Moving tributes from her sister and daughter sparked a spontaneous standing ovation from the congregation.

“She always had a smile on her face and had a fantastic sense of humour,” said sister, Laura.

“She would never hurt anyone.

“Her proudest moment was when her girl, Kirsty, was born and she held her in her arms. She loved our Kirsty beyond measure.”

Tribute was also paid to Mrs O’Neill’s work at Holy Family Catholic School in Keighley, where she was an access officer.

Her duties included working with children suffering from autism, pupils recovering from accidents and also youngsters with dyspraxia, a condition that impairs physical co-ordination.

“She would do anything to ensure her students were safe and happy, and she made learning fun,” said Laura.

School staff were among those present to say a final farewell to Mrs O’Neill, 42, whose body was found at her Hebden Road, Haworth, home on December 14.

Six heart-shaped balloons were attached to the wicker coffin, which was carried into church to the strains of Coldplay’s The Scientist.

The Reverend Peter Wilson – who led the service, accompanied by Father Michael Walsh – said: “This has left a gaping hole in the lives of so many people, but particularly her close family and friends.”

Mrs O’Neill’s daughter, Kirsty, said she “couldn’t find words” to describe the special relationship she had with her mother.

Friday’s service also included a moving solo performance of Angel, sung by Kay Langford, hymns He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands and I Watch The Sunrise, as well as songs by Celine Dion and Phil Collins. The service was followed by a private cremation.

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