A Service of Thanksgiving for the life of the Rev Trevor Kelly was held in St Colmanell’s Parish Church, Ahoghill, on Wednesday October 19.
Trevor, 55, who tragically lost his wife Aurelia in a road accident in November 2021, took ill on October 11 and died on October 15 in the ICU of Antrim Area Hospital. He is survived by his son Andrew, daughter Rebecca, daughter-in-law Laura, his mother Betty, brother Glenn and sister Lynne.
Ordained in the Non Stipendiary Ministry in 2010, Trevor served as curate in the Parishes of Craigs, Dunaghy and Killagan until 2016, when he moved to Drummaul, Duneane and Ballyscullion as curate in 2016. He had taught in Hazelwood Integrated College for more than 30 years.
Speaking at the service in a packed church, the Rev Malcolm Ferry, rector of Agherton Parish, Portstewart, described Trevor as a ‘wonderful and amazing dad.’
Trevor was born on January 24 1967 and was educated in Cookstown, Magherafelt and Stranmillis College in Belfast. “I met the young Cookstown man called Trevor Kelly the first day I walked into Stranmillis,” Malcolm said. “We were both from Co Tyrone and both signed up for Business Studies as a main subject and Computer Studies as a subsidiary subject. We were signed up together to train to be secondary school teachers. We were both quiet innocent country boys who had made it to the bright lights of Belfast.”
Malcolm said Trevor was very industrious when at college. “He was a worker. He just had that way with him – he would click into action, and nothing would distract him from his task.”
Although he recalled Trevor as ‘single minded and not easily distracted,’ Malcolm added: “I do know that Trevor was distracted once during our time at college. It was at a small social gathering in my room in Stranmillis that a certain female student arrived called Aurelia.
“The rest as they say is history. The touch paper was lit, and Trevor and Aurelia began a love story that was to blossom into a happy marriage and a wonderful partnership.”
As a teacher, Trevor worked for short spells in Maghera and Dungannon before securing a job in Hazelwood Integrated College.
“From the principal to the teachers to the non-teaching staff to the pupils, Trevor was very highly regarded,” Malcolm said.
“In a school of that size, you need to be special to stand out and Trevor did just that. He was the consummate professional – the principal spoke to me of this dedication to whole school policy and development.
“Trevor pioneered the role of chaplaincy for the school… so that as well as encouraging examination success, the school would promote good mental health and see to the needs of the whole pupil, mind, body and soul, front and centre. Trevor was a pioneer in this work – work which will continue as an important and vital part of the school.”
He was a senior teacher in the Senior Management Team, a Head of Department. “He saw that pupils were encouraged and gently pushed along to coursework deadlines and to see that it was completed to the best of their ability so that potentials could be reached,” said Malcolm. “You cannot give 30 years of your life to a workplace and not leave a big, big impression. His rapport with staff and pupils alike will be acutely missed.”
Malcolm said that during his time at Hazelwood, Trevor linked with the Whitewell community, where the school sits, with his work in food bank projects, and established a strong and significant link with Deloit, which had enhanced the school experience for the staff and pupils.
“But perhaps Trevor’s greatest career was in the home where he and Aurelia were blessed in the birth of Andrew and Rebecca. They were front and centre. At times of need, Trevor was there, and over the past year he drew closer to each of them, if that was possible. He was dad yes, but also the person they could share the joys and sorrows and challenges that they faced,” Malcolm said.
“Trevor and Aurelia between them created a home where you both could and did excel. He was so proud of you both and later just as proud of you Laura [Andrew’s wife] and the happiness you bring to Andrew…
“It is never easy to put into words the way you feel about a parent, but the words that I heard about Trevor were ‘devoted, amazing, loving,’ and most of all were about his concern for others…
“With Trevor you by your side you had a wonderful friend,” Malcolm added. “This past year it was always about how others were doing and he often neglected himself – never a journey too long that he wouldn’t take for others.
“Trevor Kelly’s life was to be lived out as Christian in a way that attracted you to him and to the God he worshipped. The Christian qualities instilled in him from childhood became the foundations of his adulthood. He was true friend to many.”
Describing Aurelia as Trevor’s ‘soulmate’ as well as his wife, Malco;m said: “They are together now in the nearer presence of God – together for eternity.”
The service in St Colmanell’s was led by the rector, the Rev Dennis Christie. The preacher was the Rev Canon Derek Kerr, rector of Drummaul, Duneane and Ballyscullion.
In the course of his sermon, Derek said that to him, Trevor had been ‘a spiritual lifeline.’ Speaking about ‘true, deep friendships,’ Derek referenced Jonathan, the friend of David, as an example, likening him to his good friend Trevor.
Jonathan was three things to David, Derek said – Firstly, a spiritual lifeline, helping David to take courage in the Lord. Secondly, he was always wanting what God wanted, telling David that he, Jonathan, would be second to David. And thirdly, Jonathan was steadfast when it became a costly friendship. He incurred the wrath and insult of his father, also risking his very place in the family.
“Trevor was, for me, a spiritual lifeline and helped me to take courage in the Lord when circumstances conspired to do the opposite. How would he do this?” Derek told mourners.
“He was a man with a steady head and would say to me ‘don’t say that,’ or ‘don’t put that in writing.’ He would talk sense to me when there wasn’t much sense being talked by me.
“Secondly, he was a man with a caring heart. He cared by ringing to ask how this meeting or that meeting had gone. I know he was concerned, and I loved him for it. That care emanated out to all he met and had dealings with. In the farmhouse kitchen, hospital bedside or pulpit.”
Derek continued: “He had a great sense of humour that gelled with mine and we laughed often. Either at situations or at each other. When I was tempted to get overwhelmed by something that was going on, Trevor would help me get perspective often with a laugh.
“In all these ways, Trevor helped me be a better servant of God. I really believe that. Yet while this might seem an odd thing to say about how such helped me in my Christian work, please realise that these attributes alone are essential in being a spiritual lifeline. However, Trevor was more than just these.
“In being a Jonathan to me… Trevor wanted what God wanted. He wanted this for the congregation, for me and for himself. He was never discontent but was always wondering if God might have more for him to do or something different for him to begin.”
And, Derek said, Trevor was steadfast when it got a bit costly. “As Jonathan suffered his father’s wrath so, at times, life was a tad awkward for Trevor. Still he was loyal and helpful and, again, made it easier for me.”
He went on: “Trevor… was the visual aid to point to the spiritual lifeline of all spiritual lifelines. Jesus Christ, God on earth.
“Jesus gives us new life and the promise and certainty of heaven. These aren’t fanciful words but given in the historical document (the Bible). Trevor was a lifeline because he had given his life to the greatest of all Spiritual lifelines and so lived out the service that Jesus Christ called for.
“Jesus wanted what God the Father wanted. He wasn’t precious about himself but gave up the glory of heaven to become man so that we might know the new, resurrection life given to all who ask for it.
“To achieve all this, Jesus took the costly road of the cross to give us new life. In order to be our lifeline back to God and so that we would then go out and share what we have with others and allow them the chance of God’s now life and the peace that it brings.”
The Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev George Davison, spoke at the committal following the service, when Trevor was laid to rest beside his beloved Aurelia.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to James Henry Funeral Services, 100 Broughshane Street, Ballymena, BT43 6EE, for Northern Ireland Chest, Heart and Stroke.