Tributes have been paid to an 11-year-old Co Armagh boy, who right up to the end of his battle against cancer, had been thinking only of his mother and family.
Jack Roycroft died on Saturday with his family by his side, telling them they had nothing to worry about as he was going to ‘the best place ever’.
The son of Ian and Tracey and much loved brother of Lauren and Grace, Lurgan lad Jack had ‘been saved’ a year ago.
His funeral was held from his home in Larkfield Square for Service in Church of The Nazarene, Mourne Road, Lurgan followed by interment in Banbridge New Cemetery.
A pupil at King’s Park Primary School, Jack suffered from Clear Cell Sarcoma which was first found in his kidneys around two and a half years ago.
His uncle Timothy Gray said: “He just loved life. He fought a hard battle.”
‘Mummy you have nothing to worry about because you can be proud that you did everything. I wouldn’t be here only for you.’Jack Roycroft
He described young Jack as a ‘typical boy’: “He was a prankster and he knew what buttons to press to wind you up. He was really into his gaming. He also had a petrol beach buggy and loved racing and go-karting.”
His aunt Diane Nelson said: “He loved speeding round the fields in it. He took after his family, he was definitely a speed demon.” But she described how he ‘got saved’. She said: “He had a very strong faith. Coming close to the end there he told us on a few occasions, ‘I am not afraid because I am a Christian you know’. He told us he was going to be with the Lord. He said ‘I will be at peace and I will be happy and I’ll not be in pain. I am not afraid because I will be in the best place ever’.”
She revealed that hundreds of churches were praying for him.
Diane said: “He knew he was fine and he knew his mummy would be fine because of where he was going to be. He told his mummy regularly that he was OK and knew she would be OK. He was wise beyond his years.”
She told a story of how he had overheard one of the staff talking about Brexit. “He said, ‘never mind Brexit - are you all right with the Lord because that is the most important thing?’.”
He was one of the first members of the Avenue Road Memorial Flute Band.
Timothy said: “He was on our first parade just before his diagnosis. He led the band and walked the full parade. Even the summer after his diagnosis we were in Belfast and we brought his wheelchair. His aunt carried his wheelchair and he walked the whole distance. He refused to get into it even though he was going through chemo.”
His aunt said: “He loved the bands, loved the boys, his daddy’s friends, his uncle Timmy’s friends, his cousin Luke’s friends. He loved the craic. He could have sat and joined in with them and could have had as much fun with them and wound them up as the next person. He knew how to get on and have a good time. He had a fantastic personality.”
Diane paid tribute to her sister. “His mummy did everything for Jack.”
She added: “And he told his mummy on many an occasion, ‘Mummy you have nothing to worry about because you can be proud that you did everything. I wouldn’t be here only for you. You did everything in your power for me. I am so proud for you to be my mummy and I love you so much.
“He was a superstar,” she said.
Such was his popularity in the band world, tributes across Northern Ireland and Scotland have flooded social media since his passing on Saturday.
Posts from various north Armagh bands such as Portadown True Blues Flute Band, Upper Bann Fusiliers Flute Band, Kilclooney and Clogher which, out of respect for young Jack, had their flags tied with black ribbon at their event on Saturday. Scottish bands also paid tribute,
His aunt Diane described a little boy who was full of mischief at school but who kept his best friend Leon Ruddy from nursery. “They were inseparable.”
Diane said: “He was a very helpful wee boy. He would have helped you bring in the groceries and would have carried six bags in his hands.”
His uncle said: “He was as strong as a bull for all the age of him. At six years of age he had my six year old above his head swinging him around.”
Diane added: “He asked his mummy if he could lift her, and before she knew it, he had his two arms around her legs and had her swooped up in the air - and that was when he was about eight.”
She said he battled his illness hard. “They threw everything at him. The chemo just didn’t like him. And radiotherapy, he had a shocking amount of sessions. And he had immunotherapy. They did everything to try and help him fight it.”
His uncle said: “When they told us he had three months, he went another six, when they told us he had a month, he went another four months. He never gave up. I think we must have been told about six times ‘Go home and prepare yourself’.
“His 10th birthday and his 11th birthday was brought forward early.”
Diane said: “Right up until the very, very last his mummy was laying beside him and he said ‘Mummy, you need to get some sleep’.
“He always thought of everybody else.”
A charity Angel Wishes said on Saturday: “It is with the heaviest heart Angel Wishes has lost one of our most inspirational young boys, Jack aged 11.”
They said: “Jack was one of our very first children when we started Angel Wishes and to say he was a fighter is an understatement.
“Jack had a smile, a personality and a genuine love for life, he will be missed beyond words by everyone who had the total pleasure of knowing him.
“Our thoughts and prayers go to Jack’s entire family at this devastating time. Jack to know you was to love you.”
Jack’s family have strong community ties in south Lurgan and have been involved with the local band scene.
Upper Bann Fusiliers Flute Band said: “The band are saddened to hear of the passing of young Jack Roycroft. Such a brave fight young man. You are an inspiration to every one of us.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Ian, Tracey, Lauren and Grace and the entire family circle at this difficult time.”
Meanwhile Portadown True Blues Flute Band said: “Devastating news reaching us on the passing of young Jack Roycroft from Lurgan. Jack is the son of former member Ian and the nephew/cousin of current members Steven and Gary Roycroft, our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole family circle at this time. Give your little ones an extra hug tonight for you never know when things can change Rest easy young Jack. You are an inspiration to many.”
His passing is very deeply regretted by his sorrowing parents, sisters, grandparents Maurice, Bertha, Jim and Yvonne and entire family circle.