“Dad was born on the 23rd November 1929 at “Hill View Farm” as it was known back then. Now that was a very special day for his Father and Mother – William and Eleanor – and his Big sister Elizabeth (who is with us here today).
Dad and Elizabeth grew up on “Hill View Farm” and attended Ballyboley School just outside Carrowdore – some 3 miles away. Things were very different back then. They would happily walk to and from school each day – and that love for walking remained with Dad throughout his entire life.
He loved to walk – and was always on the Go.
Dad grew up while the Second World War raged throughout Europe – and a story he loved to tell, was how he was stopped one day by American soldiers, while walking home from school.
It seems the soldiers asked for his papers – but he had forgotten them – so he was promptly marched up the road by the soldiers to their Base Camp.
Base Camp turned out to be ‘Hill View Farm’ no less – and for him, this was most exciting.
Dad left school at about age 16 and followed in his fathers’ footsteps to be a farmer. It seems one of his first requests was that the horse & plough had to go – to be replaced by the all new mechanical horse – the Tractor.
He was very much a progressive farmer and loved farming.
Dad however had many interests outside farming.
One was his great passion for motorcycles – and soon he had his own BSA to get him around.
He also was an active member in the amateur dramatics at Ballywalter Young Farmers Club – and loved going to dances.
It was at a Regent House dance in 1956 – he met a beautiful girl from Donegal called Mary – who became his loving wife … and in turn became Our Mum.
Mum and Dad married in 1957 and made “Hill View Farm” their home.
Farming was changing and Dad like many others, started to introduce British Friesian dairy cows onto the farm – and also was very much involved in the N.I Poultry industry…..this was the working Dad that I first remember.
Work was not enough for him, Dad was an active member of the Ballywalter Presbyterian Church and he also enjoyed being a member of the Lighthouse Masonic Lodge….he never did tell us what the initiation was or about the secret handshake.
In the late Sixties Dad and Mum introduced us all to “the world of swimming” and this was where we were to spend our time as a family. It all began at Butlins Mosney then Templemore Baths in Belfast. Memories of him racing along the Portaferry Road in his Ford Capri or Corsair 2000E, will live with us always – and as soon as the new pool was opened in Newtownards, we joined Ards Swimming Club, and that was the start of a 20-year sporting interest, which he became very heavily involved in.
Dad loved it – and especially loved it when he was asked to be the official race starter at major galas.
He was a real quick starter, no time for waiting…..he was always ready to GO…
Inst, Leander and Bangor Swimming clubs followed and there were many early mornings and weekends away at competitions , he was always there to support us and give us the encouragement that we needed.
For Dad the whole swimming circle was a real step outside the farming world that he had grown up in. It was a great opportunity to visit and see different parts of the world; his visit to see Ashley in Houston, Texas was one trip Dad still talked about with great excitement and fondness, and the photograph of him today was taken when he visited NASA back in 1981….. he was ready for lift off…ready to GO !!
By this stage Dad decided to change direction from farming and joined the Department of Agriculture, just beside us here,today, at Crossnagreevy. He spent many a happy time working there and until recently would have referred to his colleagues and friends there.
Then during the mid eighties Dad seized the opportunity to start his own business on the farm in the agricultural supply industry, which he continued with right up to the point were we as a family recommended that he really should stop working, especially when he started to believe he was Eddie Irvine on the fork lift –
He loved watching Eddie – who we swam with at Ards – and the whole formula one racing scene.
Believe it or not this was around the same time that his love for motorcycles was rekindled, and he decided to buy a 1956 Francis Barnett motorcycle. Please appreciate that at this stage he was in his Seventies… we were not quite sure who was going to be more surprised as he planned to race up and down the local roads; us or the neighbours… as one neighbour said to me “clear the roads!!! John’s coming !!”
Alas it was never to be, Dad had forgotten that to get the motorcycle started you needed a strong right kicking leg.
Dad will be greatly missed by all the family, but especially by Mum, Terence, Ashley and Me.
Love you Dad!
It’s time to go.”
by Nicholas Morrison.