THIS is Aaron Macaulay sitting happily smiling in the middle of his four older teenage brothers and sisters posing for a family picture.
Yesterday, the world of his siblings and that of his parents Wendy and Maurice were turned upside down when Aaron was killed in a tragic accident on the family farm in Co Down.
The close knit farming community across south Down has been stunned by the ten-year-old’s death shortly after 2.30 pm on Tuesday which is now the subject of a Health and Safety Executive investigation..
Aaron fell off a slurry shovel attached to a tractor driven by his older brother Matthew as they climbed a steep hill.
Tragically, Aaron never survived the fall despite being airlifted by a PSNI helicopter to Craigavon Area Hospital.
Older brother Matthew remains in Craigavon Area Hospital being treated for his injuries.
The accident happened in Moneyslane close to the Slieve Croob mountain on Castlewellan’s Rathfriland Road.
Tributes have flooded in throughout Tuesday and Wednesday to the family of Aaron who are well known and respected in the area.
Aaron was in P6 at Drumnadonnel Primary School which has been left stunned by the news.
School principal Keith Spiers said: “I got the phone call yesterday afternoon. First it was disbelief, shock and anxiety, all of those emotions came over me.
“Aaron was a lovely child, a real character, and he will be deeply, deeply missed.”
Aaron’s father and mother, Maurice and Wendy Macaulay, are well-known in the local farming community and are devout worshippers at Drumgooland Presbyterian Church in nearby Ballyward where Aaron’s funeral will be held this Friday, August 2.
Their minister Rev Michael Davidson cut short his holiday on hearing the news as he went to console the Macaulay family in their hour of grief.
Said Rev Davidson: “Aaron was a very precious little boy, not just to his mum and dad and grandparents and brothers and sisters, but also to our church family and the wider community.
“He was full of fun, he was full of life, a boy who enjoyed life to the full, a boy who just spread joy everywhere and was guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and to raise a laugh with the things that he would do.”
Politicians from across the political spectrum have expressed their shock and sadness at the death of the schoolboy in a farming accident.
First Minister Peter Robinson described the incident as “dreadful and horrendous” and said it further highlights the need to recognise the dangers present on farms.
“I think it shows the danger there is in and around farms and I think requires of government that we re-emphasise the dangers that there are around farming,” he said.
“It’s a tremendous vocation, it’s a very important part of our life in Northern Ireland but I have to say our farms can be places of real danger and that requires us to be looking at the safety issues and there is responsibility as government for that as well.”
Deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said the latest farm fatality was “heartbreaking”.
“It’s very, very sad and our hearts go out to the Macaulay family on the loss of their son,” said the Deputy First Minister.
“It’s terrible and I know a family losing any child has a very dramatic impact on themselves and on the local community so I obviously extend my sympathy and condolences to the family as I do to all families who suffer at this time.”
South Down NI21 MLA John McCallister said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family. This really is a tragic event.
The DUP’s south Down MLA Jim Wells said the Macauley family were well known and “well respected” in the area.
“The tragic death of Aaron will shock the entire community who will gather round and the support the grieving family,” said the new Health Minister in waiting.
“Aaron was the youngest of four children and his loss will leave a huge void in the Macauley family.’
SDLP MP for south Down Margaret Ritchie also sent her sympathies to the family over their tragic loss.
“The farming people of south Down will support the family today and tomorrow. People will rally round to help them,” said Ms Ritchie.
It is the third death on a farm within the space of a week.
Last Tuesday, little Harry Starrett died on his grandfather’s farm in Co Armagh.
The six-year-old was found unconscious by his grandfather in a milking parlour last Tuesday afternoon.
At first it was believe he died after being overcome by slurry fumes in a shed.
However, a post mortem revealed the primary school boy died from an underlying heart condition.
And last Thursday, 70-year-old Henry Allen fell from a while working on slurry in Moneymore, Co Derry.
The deaths come amid a hard-hitting advertising campaign from HSENI warning of the dangers while working on farms.
Ulster Farmers Union Barclay Bell said the death of young Aaron was a “terrible tragedy” to the family.
He said: “Farms are a lovely place to grow up on but they are also very dangerous.”
UUP Newry and Armagh MLA Danny Kennedy, who knows the wider family circle, said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the young boy who died in this latest farm tragedy.”