‘Life centred on family’ cut short after drowning

A specialist PSNI boat on patrol in Lough Erne
A specialist PSNI boat on patrol in Lough Erne

A woman who lost her life in a tragic drowning accident on Lough Erne was described as an animal lover who dedicated her life to her family during her funeral.

Drumragh parish priest, Monsignor Jospeh Donnelly, spoke at length in his homily of Annette Preston’s character, her family and the future that was cut short when she slipped and fell from a boat moored at the Round ‘O’ Jetty in Enniskillen during the early hours of Saturday morning.

Annette, a 49-year-old mother-of-two, fell as she attempted to climb from her boat to the jetty. Despite the efforts of a passer-by, who managed to successfully rescue her husband, Steven, who had also fallen into the water, Annette sadly drowned.

Speaking during her funeral at St Mary’s Church, Drumragh, Monsignor Donnelly said: “For a family to have to part with a dear wife, a loving mother, a sister, daughter – it is all so very unreal. Annette was just 49 years of age, with, in the estimation of most, by our reckoning, the prospect of many happy years ahead. It wasn’t to be.”

He continued: “Annette grew up in a family of three, with an older brother and a younger sister.

“She went to St Conor’s Primary School and later to St Brigid’s Secondary School. She took up work upon leaving school, starting off in the Co-op.

“She later moved to Desmond’s Factory and was with them till it closed. In the meantime she met Stevie. They fell in love and married in 1998.

“They set up house, their home from then on. Annette’s life centred on Stevie and their two children, Stephanie and Andrew.

“She was always a hard worker and a great lover of nature.

“Her kindly nature extended also to animals who seemed to sense that they were welcome in her company.

“Annette got great enjoyment in their caravan for years. She looked forward to the time spent there and had equal enthusiasm for the boat on Lough Erne. They planned to cruise the Shannon next year.

“The tragedy of the last few days contrasts very much with Annette’s bubbly nature and sense of fun. We may search for answers and just be left at a loss. It is for that reason we turn to the scripture word for comfort.”

Earlier, Monsignor Donnelly said: “A family, extended family and a whole community have been left numbed by this unexpected, sudden and tragic death.”

He added: “It is, of course, the bereaved husband and family who suffer most from the sudden loss.”

Mrs Preston’s drowning in Lough Erne is the second such tragedy in recent months.

Co Donegal mother-of-two Luna McKinney, 35, also drowned in the lough in April.