THE wife of a North Belfast man who died following a tragic accident says her “world has fallen apart”

Rodney Shirley (36), a tree care worker from the Oldpark Road, was in a cherry picker when he was electrocuted on September 30.

The father-of-four was a devoted father to Lauren (12), Ryan (5), Jude (2) and Ava, aged just 12 weeks.

His funeral took place last Friday (October 8). A joint investigation is being carried out by police and the Health and Safety Executive.

His wife, Lynne, said it was just a normal day before she received a phone call about the tragic incident.

“That morning, Rodney got up for work as normal and said goodbye as normal,” she said.

“I am off on maternity leave and was getting all the kids ready for school. I went up to my sister's house and as I was leaving, my phone started ringing.

“It was a really wet and damp day and I thought maybe it was Rodney telling me he would be finishing early.

“It was Rodney’s boss who said he had been in an accident and was unconscious. I started to panic. My mind just went blank.

HAPPY MEMORIES: Lynne and Rodney on their wedding day

HAPPY MEMORIES: Lynne and Rodney on their wedding day

“My daddy brought me to the Royal Victoria Hospital. I was trying to stay as positive as I could on the way to hospital.

“I got to the hospital and we were in a room waiting with some of his family. A while later, a doctor came in and told me that Rodney had passed away.

“I felt my whole world fall apart. I went in to see him and he was just lying there with his work clothes on. I started talking to him, hoping he would hear me, even though I knew he was gone.

“The hardest part was telling my children. Rodney adored them and they loved him so much. How do you tell children so young that their daddy has died?

“I tried to tell them his heart and soul went to heaven and his body had to come home for the funeral for us to say goodbye before his body goes to heaven.

“I sat the next day trying to plan the funeral. I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it, having said goodbye as normal to him before he went to work the previous morning.

“Bringing the kids in to see him when his body arrived at the house would have broken your heart.

“Ryan started talking to him and was touching him. Jude started pointing up to heaven and then to himself almost like he wanted to go up to heaven and see him.

“He keeps asking me if I am going to disappear and go to heaven as well. That is literally what happened to Rodney. Ryan went to bed that night and never seen his daddy again.

“I have been trying to talk to people about it but I am still in real disbelief. It still doesn’t feel real.”

Lynne says her husband was loved by so many people and added that he was a very loving father to their children.

“If Rodney wasn’t at work, he was at home with his family. He was always so happy and easy-going,” she added.

“He was very well-loved by so many people. He was involved in everything to do with the kids.

“We had so many plans together as a family and were looking forward to a holiday away next year.

“It breaks my heart every day seeing the kids without their daddy. How can we ever accept something like this?

“It is like he is just going to walk in the front door and be with us all again. It will be very hard to move on because he was such a big part of this house and family.

“Even clearing his car out was heartbreaking. It was full of crisps, sweets and drinks he had for the kids when he used to take them out.

“Everyone is saying to me to take one day at a time. I am trying to be strong for the kids. He will be sorely missed by us all.”