The family of an 11-year-old girl who died after falling ill on a school trip to the Scottish Highlands said tonight they had been left devastated by their loss.
Ruby Dench, a year seven pupil at Whiteabbey Primary School, had been on an excursion to an outdoor centre near the village of Kincraig when she became sick.
Emergency services were called after she was found unconscious at about 2.30am yesterday.
In a statement her heartbroken family asked to be left alone to mourn the loss of their treasured child.
“We are obviously devastated at the loss of our precious Ruby. Due to the distance involved and due process required, funeral arrangements have yet to be confirmed.
“The family would ask that their privacy be respected at this terrible time,” the statement said.
Ruby was among 58 schoolchildren from Northern Ireland who had been visiting Loch Inch Outdoor Centre when she fell ill.
Attempts were made to resuscitate her but she was later pronounced dead at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.
Whiteabbey Primary principal Peter Wright, who broke news of the tragedy to the schoolgirl’s parents, said she had been an exceptional pupil who was bright, vivacious, talented, and had a lot to offer.
The trip was cut short and teachers and pupils returned home to Co Antrim last night.
Mr Wright said counselling was now being offered to the children who had been left confused and upset by the death.
The headteacher also paid tribute to his staff on how they handled the difficult situation.
Police in Scotland described the girl’s death as unexplained. A post mortem examination was due to be carried out earlier today.