So many unanswered questions after promising
young showjumper's death
Dad's plea: `If anyone is
thinking of taking their own life - please, please get help'
by MARY MAGEE
FAMILY of Paula Smyth, at 17 one of the country's most promising
show jumpers, say they are at a complete loss to know why she
took her own life last week.
Paula was discovered by her father Paul in
the garage at her home in Woodlands Court, Lisburn on Thursday
She had been out the previous night with her
older sister Louise (20) and when they returned home nothing
She was her normal self - outgoing, bubbly
and vivacious. When the two sisters got home they chatted, got
into their pyjamas and then went into their rooms.
The following morning her father noticed
Paulas bed had not been slept in and started looking for her
around the house.
For her family, Paula's death leaves so many
unanswered questions. She had been making plans for the future
and had bought her four month old nephew a Halloween outfit he
was to wear the following day. She was looking forward to seeing
him in it. She had planned to travel to Galway and Poland to see
well known DJ Richard Durand.
Paula, who worked for Marks and Spencer, was
looking forward to celebrating her 18th birthday in February and
had been dropping hints she wanted a car as a joint Christmas
and birthday present. Her father Paul said: "She was an
outstanding girl and had everything to live for. She was looking
forward to so many things. She had no worries, no boyfriend
troubles, she was so honest she could never tell a lie and lived
in a very happy home. There were no fights. We as a family got
on so well."
Her mother Alison believes Paula may simply
have had a momentary lapse.
she heard of anyone taking their own life she said 'that was
such a selfish act'. She would say 'I would never do that to you
I love you too much to do that'. She was never depressed and was
a very outgoing person. She got on so well with us all and there
was nothing that we knew that indicated there was something
Paul said: "As a daughter she was everything
you could hope for. She had confidence, she was stunning and was
loved by everyone who knew her. She was a joy to be with." Paula
was a member of Limepark Equestrian Centre in Maghaberry and
former member of Killultagh and current member of Downshire
Riding Club and even at the tender age of six she was destined
to become a show jumper, showing a real aptitude and interest in
She won championship after championship. She
was Balmoral and British Champion. In the Area 17 Dengie Show
jumping Finals last year she finished ahead of 94 other
competitors and represented Northern Ireland in the Pony Club
Dengie Winter League Show Jumping Championships in Warwickshire.
Her favourite horses were Jimmy Jump (Grade
A) and her much loved Stevie Boy (was almost Grade A) who helped
her win the National Balmoral in 2004 and 2006. She was also
founder member of the Laurelhill Community College show jumping
So successful was she that Mickey McCann,
well known in horsing circles, told Paula's family he had never
in the past, nor expected to in the future, known anyone who had
the success she had in such a short space of time.
Her mother said: "Paula loved horse riding
but loved socialising too. She was funny, cheeky, bubbly. She
would not think twice about spending £100 on a top and her wages
sometimes lasted for just ten days."
Sister Louise said: "When she went out she
would have taken hours putting on false tan, false eye lashes,
makeup...the works. She loved dressing ostentatiously too.She
had to be first at everything, second place was not good
She recently bought her sister a necklace and
a Spongebob Squarepants necklace for herself as a token of
Her father continued: "When she went out she
would say 'Dad how do I look'. She was always outstanding, she
was gorgeous. I would say 'yes you are stunning' because she
was. I adored her. Everyone who knew her loved her. Her biggest
fan was a 90 year old who would watch her show jumping.
"When she was competing he would say to me
The Winner Takes it All, Daddy' - that was a wee joke we had
"She had a teddy Nessie I bought her from
Scotland and she took it everywhere with her. she never slept
He appealed to anyone thinking of taking
their own life to seek help. "If this article stops just one
person from taking their own life" he said. "We would have done
anything for Paula, in fact for all our children. If anyone is
thinking of taking their own life - please, please get help."
Over 600 people packed Seymour Street Methodist Church on Monday
for Paula's funeral.
Minister pays tribute to a
THE REV Brian Anderson, minister of Seymour
Street Methodist church, praised 'a remarkable girl' and her
He praised the way in which the family have
conducted themselves following the death of their precious
daughter last week.
He said they had been very courageous and
open in talking about Paula.
"They have been remarkable," said Rev
Anderson. "They have shown themselves to be very courageous and
their home is always open. They are understandably very proud of
Paula and in everything that she achieved.
"Paula was a remarkable girl"