Tragic classroom assistant ‘caring and had exceptional talent’

Banbridge woman Denise Bryson had been a classroom assistant at Abercorn Primary School since 1999
Banbridge woman Denise Bryson had been a classroom assistant at Abercorn Primary School since 1999

A Co Down church was full to capacity for the funeral of a woman who had a “nurturing” personality and “exceptional” drama and music skills.

Denise Bryson, 57, passed away peacefully on Tuesday surrounded by her family at their home in Banbridge.

She is survived by her husband Nigel, daughter Natalie, mother Marie and siblings Carol and Jim, and was daughter of the late Jim. She had been battling oesophageal cancer.

Denise was originally from Lurgan but moved to Banbridge to set up home after marrying.

Her funeral took place from her home to the Church of St Therese’s Church on Scarva Road on Thursday.

Sandra Saulters, principal of Abercorn Primary School in Banbridge where Denise worked as a classroom assistant, paid a glowing tribute to her.

Describing her as an “esteemed and much-loved colleague”, she said Denise had worked at the school from February 1999, during which time she had “nurtured and enriched the lives of so many P1 children in her care”.

She added: “In particular her skills and talent in preparing the children for drama and musical productions over the years were exceptional.

“Her vivacious and caring personality were always to the fore and she will be sadly missed by all who knew her.”

As mark of respect and to enable staff to attend her funeral, the school closed yesterday at noon.

Her lifelong friend Rosemary Kelly said: “Denise was one of those special people you come across in life who does not think of herself but thinks of others.

“She was a devoted wife and mother to her husband and daughter.

“And she loved working with primary one children in Abercorn Primary School and seeing them develop.

“She was also a nurturer and encouraged all the young ones in the society to develop.

“She was one of those people in life who always thought of others ahead of herself.”

Rosemary was chairperson of Banbridge Musical Society for around four years during which time Denise was her “right hand” and was always there to help.

“But it was not just me, she was a great help to everyone.

“She helped with drilling the dancers, looking after costumes and served on the committee for many years in various positions.”

As chair and vice chair, the pair collected a number of awards on behalf of the group from the annual Association of Irish Musical Societies ceremony in Killarney.

The funeral was a fitting tribute to her close friend, she added.

“The church was full of her friends and work colleagues, plus friends from a charity choir we worked with in Belfast in aid of India.”