The Chairperson of local autism charity, Circle of Support (COS), Carrie Coyle, died suddenly at the weekend.
Carrie, who was 36 years-old, was described by COS Secretary and friend, Juliana Harkin, as her ‘gladiator in high heels’.
“I knew Carrie for the last seven years and not only has COS lost its chairperson and one of its co-founders but I have lost my best friend. She was my gladiator in high heels,” said Juliana tearfully.
Carrie was originally from Dublin but moved to Derry when she was 16 years-old. She had three children; Kenadie (18), Morgan (14) and Carter aged seven.
“I honestly believe the people of Derry don’t know what they have lost in Carrie and I would hope that COS would be her legacy. I hope now that we can go on to achieve all that she lobbied for for families and children with autism in Derry and further a field.
“Carrie was so proud to be part of life in Derry - she felt completely at home here. Every year when taking part in the COS walk across the Peace Bridge, Carrie would be front and centre with a big smile on her face. One of the things Carrie encouraged other parents with children with autism to do was to meet up and talk over a cup of coffee. When many of the mums heard the tragic news at the weekend some met up for coffee - they coped the way Carrie had taught them to,” added Juliana.
Carrie was described as an “inspiration” by SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H. Durkan.
Mr. Durkan currently sits on the Assembly’s All Party Group on Autism and knew Carrie.
“Carrie Coyle was a lovely lady. She did a lot for our local community and dedicated herself to bettering the lives of those with autism,” said Mr. Durkan.
“Carrie was an inspiration and will be a loss to the wider Derry community. My sympathies go out to her family at this difficult time.”
In 2012, Carrie appeared with four other COS mums, on Holly Willoughby hosted ITV programme ‘Surprise, Surprise’.
“Carrie was an amazing person. She had time for everyone and when it came to helping others it didn’t matter who you were, it didn’t matter if it was morning, noon or night, she was always there.
“She was an amazing woman and my best friend. I am so sad today. Derry has lost an amazing woman,” Juliana added.