Jonathan McCambridge, PA
Political leaders in the North, including Michelle O’Neill and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, gathered for the funeral of the parents of Northern Ireland Assembly member Alex Easton in Co Down.
Mr Easton’s mother and father died following a fire at a property in the Dellmount Park area of Bangor, on Monday morning.
Alec and Ann Easton, who were aged in their 80s, were treated for their injuries but both died at the scene.
Speaking at a service of thanksgiving in Bangor Abbey, Alex Easton said the emergency services would always have a place in the hearts of his family for their efforts in trying to save his parents.
A number of politicians, including North Down MP Stephen Farry, the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Alex Maskey, and TUV leader Jim Allister also attended the funeral service.
Several members of the DUP, of which Alex Easton was formerly a member, were in the congregation.
The two wooden coffins were side by side at the front of the church for the funeral.
Opening the service, the rector of Bangor Abbey Canon Ronnie Nesbitt welcomed those who had attended the funeral.
He said: “For their family, especially for Chris, Lorraine and Alex, it has been a grievous loss indeed but one that is perhaps made a little bit more bearable by your presence here today and the many expressions of love and care they have been receiving over these past days.”
Before reading a prayer, Alex Easton expressed words of thanks for those who had tried to save his parents.
He said: “I want to say thank you to the emergency services, the PSNI, the fire service, for all they did.
“You will forever be in our hearts for what you tried to do for us.
“I want to say thank you to my mum and dad’s carers. I know it wasn’t always easy for you.
“I want to say thank you to everybody who sent me and my family such kind messages.”
Canon Christopher Easton, the rector of Armoy, delivered a reflection on the lives of his mother and father.
He said: “This is not at all how I ever imagined this day would be.
“Mum and dad met and married in their late teens and they were together ever after that.
“Dad had been sent from his father from South Africa, where he was born, to Belfast to Harland and Wolff on an apprenticeship as an engineer.
“Mum worked in the Ulster Bank in Belfast and they met quite literally over the counter in the bank.
“It wasn’t long before they fell in love and they began a journey which was long and eventful together and has just ended.
“Or perhaps, I would prefer to say, this chapter has ended and another has begun for them because they were believers in Jesus.”
Hymns played at the service were The Lord’s My Shepherd, Amazing Grace and In Christ Alone.