Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Keith Willis, 1962-2011

THE LATE KEITH WILLIS WAS CLEARLY A SPECIAL PERSON. RESPECTED AND ADMIRED BY LORD CALEDON, VILLAGERS AND MANY OTHERS. HE SERVED HIS COUNTRY WITH PRIDE IN THE ULSTER DEFENCE REGIMENT.  I HAVE READ A LOVELY ARTICLE IN THE ULSTER GAZETTE NEWSPAPER DATED 8TH SEPTEMBER, 2011


MOURNERS at the funeral of a well known Caledon man who was killed in a tragic accident last Wednesday have heard how he "died doing what he loved best".

Keith Willis, a country estate manager for Lord Caledon, lost his life in a freak tree felling accident at the 5,000 acre Armagh Road property, where he had worked for 34 years.

On Friday, the hundreds of mourners who packed into St John's Parish Church in Mr Willis' home village, heard the 49-year-old father of two described, in a tribute by Lord Caledon, as a man who was devoted to his wife and family.

Lord Caledon, who flew back to Northern Ireland from England on Thursday afternoon, said he was honoured to have been asked to lead the tributes at Mr Willis' funeral service.

“Keith died so tragically on the estate on Wednesday, doing what he loved best," Lord Caledon told heartbroken mourners. 
“When I think of Keith, what shines out was that he was a loving husband, an adoring father, a kindly uncle and a devoted son.
“He was enormously proud of his girls, Laura-Jane and Katherine, just as he was of his nephews, David and Andrew.
“Keith was a quintessential family man, through and through - always protective, loving and supportive of Pauline."
Lord Caledon also spoke of Mr Willis' dedication and commitment to the community in which he lived.
“He loved the church, and was a member of the Select Vestry and served on the Church Hall committee. He always pumped energy into raising money for the church and the community as a whole.
“He was knowledgeable and served through difficult times in the UDR. He loved to do his annual fly-ins as Father Christmas (to the local primary school on Lord Caledon's helicopter), and there was no better man for the job."
Lord Caledon went on to describe Mr Willis as a good human being, a great example to the community and someone who will be missed greatly by everyone who had known him.

Mr Willis started working part-time on Lord Caledon's estate at the age of 13 and had recently been presented with an RUAS award for long service.

The funeral service was conducted by Reverend Johnny McLoughlin, Curate Assistant for St Mark's Church in Armagh.

Mr Willis' death is the third tragedy to hit his family over the past 20 years.

The most recent was in November last year, when his brother-in-law Robert Wilson died in an accident involving a feeder at a pig farm where he worked near Killylea.

The Willis family also suffered tragedy in July 1990, when the victim's brother Cyril, an RUC officer, was murdered along with two other colleagues and a nun when an IRA landmine exploded on the Killylea Road outside Armagh.

Mr Willis, who lived on the Killylea Road in Caledon, is survived by his wife Pauline, daughters Laura-Jane and Katherine, mother Dorothy, brother Jim and a wider family circle.

After the funeral service on Friday, the victim was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery at St John's Parish Church.

The Health and Safety Executive have launched an investigation into the accident, which occurred around lunchtime last Wednesday.

A spokesman said the investigation into the tragedy is ongoing and extended sympathy to Mr Willis' family.

No comments :