The funeral service for Christopher Stalford has heard of the DUP politician’s love for his wife and family

The Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Christopher Stalford has taken place at Ravenhhill Presbyterian Church

By Michael Cousins.
Saturday, 26th February 2022, 2:19 pm
Updated Saturday, 26th February 2022, 9:55 pm

“Christopher and Laura had known each other since they were young children,” Rev Marty Gray told the congregation.

“From the age of 16, Laura and Christopher were inseparable.

“He was her best friend and she was his and they have been that way ever since.”

The funeral heard how the couple were married by former DUP leader Ian Paisley.

“Reverend Paisley was in a meeting with Tony Blair the day he married them and left early because in his words, he had a special couple to marry.”

he service heard of his love for his family and for his south Belfast community.

Rev Marty Gray, in a personal tribute to the politician, told mourners: “Christopher was proud of his working-class upbringing.”

Christopher Stalford MLA

“He was proud of being from down the road, not up the road.

“When he went canvassing for the South Belfast seat he made sure everyone knew where he went to school so they could be sure he was a south Belfast boy through and through.”

Mourners from across the political spectrum gathered in Belfast for the funeral service.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, alongside party MPs and MLAs, were among the congregation at Ravenhill Presbyterian Church in south Belfast.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP leader, arrives for the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Christopher Stalford

The 39-year-old father of four died suddenly last weekend.

Leaders from across unionism in Northern Ireland, including Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie and Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister, attended the funeral service.

Representatives from Sinn Fein, the SDLP, the Alliance Party and the Green Party were also in attendance.

The death of Mr Stalford caused shockwaves across politics, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson among those who paid tribute to the Principal Deputy Speaker of the Stormont Assembly.

The Order of Service at the Service of Thanksgiving

A crowd gathered outside the south Belfast church on Saturday to pay their respects to the DUP representative.

Sir Jeffrey said earlier that his party was devastated by the loss of “our dear friend and much loved colleague”.

Describing him as a loving husband, father and son, Sir Jeffrey said first and foremost their thoughts and prayers are with Mr Stalford’s wife Laura, their four children and wider family.

In a statement, Mrs Stalford and the wider family thanked everyone for their kind messages, which they described as having been a comfort at an incredibly sad time.