A BOUQUET in the shape of a handbag was among the floral tributes at the funeral of a dedicated young teacher who died in last month’s Glasgow bin lorry crash.
Just hours before she was killed, Stephenie Tait, a teacher at St Philomena Primary School, had attended a carol service in the same church which yesterday hosted her funeral.
At a private service at Saint Thomas the Apostle in Glasgow attended by more than 800 friends, family and pupils past and present, Canon Peter McBride said the teacher had been at the heart of parish life.
The 29-year-old was one of six people killed when a council bin lorry ran out of control along Queen Street and George Square three days before Christmas, injuring ten others.
At the funeral service Canon McBride, who was joined by the Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia and five other priests, said: “All of us are still in a state of shock at the loss of Stephenie and that sense of loss will continue for those closest to her for the rest of their lives.”
In yesterday’s sermon, Canon McBride said: “Stephenie’s earthly remains lie before us in this church where she was comfortable and very much at home – indeed, she helped to make this place holy and sacred by her private prayers here and her active participation in the public liturgies of the church.
“The very night before she was taken from us, she gathered here with so many to reflect on the Christmas story at our annual carol concert, which featured some of the children who are with us for this Mass and members of our deanery choir who are also here today.
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“In St Paul’s letter to the Romans we hear that ‘the life and death of each of us has its influence on others’. These words ring true for us today as we recall that Stephenie’s death has been widely reported far beyond the confines of this parish community, this city and indeed this country.
“So many expressions of solidarity and prayers for Martin, for Alan and Margaret and for Pamela have been placed at St Philomena’s school, where Stephenie taught, at the site of her tragic death, and also in so many conversations on social media of these past two weeks.”
He added: “But we are here to celebrate not her death, but her life, because her life, too, has had a tremendous impact on so many people. She brought order, organisation, good humour and a sense of calm into family life, her teaching career, her parish ministry, and into her friendships.
“Her attention to detail – especially personal grooming! – is legendary, and she has left a legacy of fun and laughter combined with a strong determination to be all you can be.
“She was a modern woman with strong principles and values she felt were worth handing on to others.”
Ms Tait’s interest in fashion was recognised by the handbag floral tribute, while the coffin was accompanied by a floral message from her pupils that read “MISS TAIT” followed by the words, “Missing you”.
The service was attended by Alan and Margaret Tait, her parents, Pamela Tait, her sister and Martin Hannah, her partner.
While the church pews held 800, so many people attended that the overflow filed down the church steps, as dozens of local residents stood outside nearby shops for the duration of the service to pay their respects. After the service the family attended a private service at Daldowie Crematorium.
The final page of the order of service included a smiling photograph of Ms Tait and Mr Hannah under which ran the words: “When it rains look for rainbows. When it is dark look for the stars … and think of me.”
Three patients remain in two hospitals following the crash.
A 14-year-old girl and a 69-year-old woman are in a stable condition at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. A 57-year-old man, thought to be the driver, is in a stable condition at the Western Infirmary.
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