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RAFA mourns loss of National Standard Bearer

Larne man John Kirkpatrick MBE was a well-known person in the Royal Air Forces Association in Northern Ireland and for many years the National Standard Bearer at the annual memorial festival at the Royal Albert Hall.

John Herbert Kirkpatrick, born in Brookeborough in County Fermanagh, was the eldest of a family of four, with two younger brothers, Bill and Reggie, and one sister, Wilma.

In 1956, the Kirkpatrick family moved to Larne, where his father worked for a firm that contracted to place the roof on the British Thomson Houston (BTH) plant and then build it in the city.

John Kirkpatrick started at the first intake of the new high school Greenland in Sallagh Park, now Larne High School, and he became the first head boy of the school. After his school years he worked in Milford and Rodgers in Pound Street, Larne, until he had the age to join the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

When it turned out that he was color blind, he could not join the local police, so as an alternative in 1961 he joined the Royal Air Force Police, where he worked as a dog handler for nine years.

When he left the RAF, John spent a period in the Ballylumford Power Station on Islandmagee and at the Rhodesian Iron and Steel Company in what is now Zimbabwe. It was during this period that his two daughters, Tracey and Tanya, were born. He returned to Northern Ireland and went to work in Larne Harbor in 1977 and continued to work there until his retirement in 2006.

In 1983 he joined the Larne Branch of the Royal Air Forces Association and served as chairman for 34 years. He became the National Standard Bearer for the Association and served in that position for 27 years. Many local people looked very carefully at the National Festival of Remembrance to catch a glimpse of John who wore the RAFA standard on the steps of the Royal Albert Hall.

In 2009, his excellent service to the Royal Air Forces Association was highlighted when he received an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen with the mention & # 39; for welfare services to the Royal Air Forces Association & # 39 ;.

The Secretary of the Curran Road Assembly, Noel Davidson, who paid tribute to his funeral at Larne Gospel Hall, emphasized the key role that John and his wife Margaret had played since joining the Gospel Hall in 2000.

Kirkpatrick was a tireless worker in the local assembly, helped with the children's gathering in recent years and was responsible for catering for the family service and was always ready to help with jobs he had to do in the building.

Referring to a passage in the Bible in which Paul gives instructions to Christians regarding their work, Mr. Davidson quoted: "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not the people."

He outlined that this was the way John Kirkpatrick behaved. "What did John Herbert Kirkpatrick do too? In his work for RAFA, his family and this church, he was always diligent in paying attention to matters related to RAFA and at this time of the year he organized the annual street collection that included a considerable amount of money. work involved. "

"How did he do these things?" "A warm response is the answer," Davidson said.

"That allows me to easily get into my last consideration, the motive to do things," as far as the Lord is concerned and not for men. "When he knew in the early summer that his state, the medical staff told him he had to do everything he wanted to do. "John's reaction with the family later was easy:" All I want to do is be able to Sunday morning to go to church to remember the Lord. "His predominant desire was for the Lord, not he himself, not even the family he loved so much – it was the Lord. & # 39;

Mr. Kirkpatrick's funeral was attended by more than 300 mourners, a testimony to the high esteem in which he was held in the local community. After the service in the Larne Gospel Hall took place at the cemetery. Donations instead of flowers were encouraged to the Macmillan Cancer Unit (checks in favor of NHSCT) c / o Mr. Joe Jamieson undertaker, 102 Carnlough Road, Broughshane, Ballymena BT43 7HQ.

Mr. Kirkpatrick is survived by his wife Margaret, daughters Tracey and Tanya, and their families.

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