“Jamie had his whole life planned out, but not this. No parent should ever have to bury their child.” The parents of 21-year-old veterinary student Jamie Nelson, who died last Wednesday morning following a collision between a lorry and a car on the A4 near Brookeborough recall a “very bright”, “determined” young man, who was known to most as “the gentle giant.” Raymond and Valerie Nelson, from outside Rosslea state: “Jamie has left a void here. He will be missed by all who knew him. There are only memories left, but they are all happy memories.” A second year student of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Glasgow, Jamie was the oldest of six. He had arrived back in Fermanagh four days before his untimely death. He had begun a work placement at his cousin’s goat farm near Brookeborough last Monday and was on his way to the farm when the collision took place.

A thanksgiving service for his life took place last Saturday in Holy Trinity Parish Church, Clogh, one of the largest services the church has seen in 20 years.

Hymns for the funeral service were chosen by Jamie’s brothers and sisters. They included two of his favourites: ‘Abide With Me’ and ‘Shine, Jesus, Shine’.

A keen flautist and drummer, “Jamie would always have fluted ‘Abide With Me’ around the house,” recalls Melanie.

Raymond adds: “That’s one thing we’ll surely miss, his fluting. The neighbours told us they knew when Jamie was home because they could hear the flute and drums through the open windows.” Jamie was a dedicated member of Magheraveely Flute Band. As a child, he had been a member of Clogh War Memorial flute band.

He was also a member of two loyal orders: Clogh RBP 107 and Shankill LOL 664; Clogh Parish Church of Ireland; Clogh bowling club and Clogh Hall Committee.

“If there was ever any work to be done or help needed at the hall, the church, the bowling or the flute band, he was always first on hand to help,” says Jamie’s godfather Thomas Nelson.

His friends in Magheraveely Flute Band formed a guard of honour at the Nelson home and at Clogh Church on the morning of Jamie’s funeral, which the family are grateful for.

An amateur radio enthusiast, Jamie was Treasurer of the Lough Erne Amateur Radio Club before he started university, winning various competitions and helping to coach his father Raymond and his uncle Thomas in their efforts to gain their full amateur radio licence.

“He always found his school work so easy that he had time for other pursuits,” Thomas comments. “No matter what he did, he gave it his all.” Educated in Aghadrumsee Primary School and Lisnaskea High School, Jamie completed his A-Levels at Portora Royal School. During a gap year after his A-Levels, he volunteered as a tutor at Lisnaskea High School, where he “always pushed the students to do their best”.

The high esteem in which he was held in that school was highlighted by former Principal David Rees, who paid tribute to Jamie at his funeral. “They hit it off,” says Valerie. “He mentioned the way they used to support different teams and also mentioned how Jamie won nine trophies at the school prize-giving just after his GCSES – for English, Maths, the three Sciences, Technology and Design, History, French and ICT.” Despite not coming from a farming background, Jamie “loved the outdoors” and was “passionate about animals”. He also volunteered at Bright Eyes Animal Sanctuary before starting his degree in Veterinary Medicine.

“There’s a goat outside that Jamie took home from Bright Eyes and it was in a bad way – he could go nowhere without coming back with an animal – but it’s healthy and it’s about to have a kid and Jamie won’t be here to see that,” says his mother Valerie.

Other work placements included The Brook Veterinary Clinic and Castle Leslie (where he stayed an entire summer and came home with a dog).

Jamie’s extra-curricular activities didn’t end when he started university. Instead, he threw himself into the Glasgow University Veterinary Rugby Team, making new friends, many of whom flew over with the university chaplain to attend the funeral and to help carry Jamie’s coffin. They also presented the family with a touching photo of the team showing Jamie’s “mischievous and fun-loving” side and Jamie’s rugby jersey, which they had all signed.

Glasgow University will also hold a memorial service for Jamie when Valerie and Raymond make the trip in the coming weeks to clear out Jamie’s flat. All sports interested Jamie. “No matter what was on: soccer, gaelic, rugby, golf, he watched it”, says Valerie. He also played golf and enjoyed fishing with his friend Adam.

A “wonderful role model” to his sisters Melanie and Gemma and his brothers Kyle, Ashley and Jordan, Jamie was considerate about his grandparents James and Madge Nelson and Patricia Higgins, always texting to ask how they were doing.

“He was modest, he would never brag about his achievements,” Valerie continues. “He would talk to everyone, no matter their colour or creed, he treated everyone the same.” The grieving family conclude: “Jamie achieved a lot in his 21 years, more than many people would achieve in a lifetime. We are very proud of him. The world has lost a potentially brilliant vet. Whoever crossed his path, he touched their hearts.”