Funeral on Tuesday for woman who died in farm accident

Thelma Gorman was an award winning cattle breeder. Picture by Julie Hazelton
Thelma Gorman was an award winning cattle breeder. Picture by Julie Hazelton

A woman killed in a farming accident in Co Armagh on Friday, a well known cattle-breeder who won Farming Life’s Unsung Hero Award in 2016, will be laid to rest on Tuesday.

It is believed Thelma Gorman lost her life after being struck by a cow.

Thelma Gorman. Picture: Julie Hazelton

Thelma Gorman. Picture: Julie Hazelton

The Northern Ireland Air Ambulance was tasked following the incident but sadly it was not enough to save Mrs Gorman’s life.

Both the PSNI and the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland were at the scene on Friday evening as investigations into exactly what happened got under way.

Mrs Gorman was described on Friday as someone who cared greatly for the animals she kept. She will be laid to resy after a funeral service in Armagh Free Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, September 12 at 1.30pm.

In her nomination for the 2016 Farming Life Unsung Hero Award, Mrs Gorman was described as “a committed Christian” who had “worked tirelessly” for the local community.

Thelma Gorman pictured at the Farming Life awards in 2016, where she picked up the Unsung Hero accolade

Thelma Gorman pictured at the Farming Life awards in 2016, where she picked up the Unsung Hero accolade

A former nurse, both Mrs Gorman and her husband Peter had provided respite care for young people with learning disabilities.

Her selfless actions also won her the former Armagh council’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2012.

DUP MLA William Irwin said he knew Mrs Gorman personally for many years.

“Animals and simmental breeding was the love her life,” he told the News Letter.

“She just loved animals, and she had a great way with animals. It is sad that she has died doing something that she loved, something that she has been doing every day of her life. She cared for her animals, very much so.

“There are no set rules for working with animals, there is always that danger. It is very sad what has happened.”

A longtime member of the NI Simmental Cattle Breeders’ Club, she became its first ever female chairperson when she took up the position in 1997, a role she held again in 2007.

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson also expressed his sadness at Mrs Gorman’s passing, saying: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Thelma Gorman.

“Thelma was well known and widely respected in Co Armagh and beyond, having dedicated many, many years to the local community.”

Mr Irwin continued: “I have known Thelma very well for many years. I knew her through her breeding of simmental cattle, I would have known her and talked to her through the shows.

“My son attends the same church as her. She was a very well known woman and she did a lot for the local community.”

He added: “She will be greatly missed.”

Ulster Unionist Councillor Jim Speers also paid tribute to Mrs Gorman.

He said: “I knew Thelma Gorman and her family well.

“This is an absolute tragedy. Only last year she won the Unsung Hero Award at the Farming Life and Danske Bank Awards in Belfast which reflected Thelma’s dedication to the community and her caring nature.”

Mrs Gorman had been involved with the Armagh County Show for over four decades, and had played a pivotal role in securing sponsorship and increasing entries in the cattle section at the popular one-day show.

Within the Simmental Club she chaired on two occasions, Mrs Gorman had also been responsible for the hospitality rota at Balmoral Show.

She had also been one of the main organisers of its annual charity barbecue, which has raised thousands of pounds for various local charities.

Her fundraising was something which played a key role in her winning of Armagh council’s Volunteer of the Year Award back in 2012.

She had also offered help and assistance to the cattle section at Tydavnet Show in County Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland.

Councillor Jim Speers continued: “She was a long time stalwart of the Armagh Show and it wouldn’t be what it is today without her help and guidance.”

Mr Speers also spoke of her caring nature, saying: “Thelma and her husband Peter also provided valuable respite care for children with learning disabilities.

The Ulster Unionist councillor added: “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family. This is another tragic example of how dangerous farming can be, but at this moment the community will be focusing on providing sympathy and support to the family.”

‘COMMITTED CHRISTIAN’

Mrs Gorman’s nomination papers for the Farming Life 2016 Unsung Hero reveal a woman who had spent most of her life helping others, an “inspiration” to other cattle breeders, a talented florist and a former nurse.

Her nomination read: “For more than 20 years Thelma, and husband Peter, have opened up their home to provide respite care for children with learning disabilities.”

It continues: “Thelma worked as a nurse in the Oaklands Home in Armagh for 15 years, and it was there she discovered a need for families to have access to respite care.

“She identified the difficulties facing parents and siblings of children with severe learning disabilities, and decided to volunteer as a carer.

“She currently provides a home-from-home environment on a weekly basis for two young adults in the local area.”

In 2012, Thelma’s efforts were rewarded with Armagh council’s ‘Volunteer of the Year Award’ for both opening up her home to young people with learning difficulties and for “her fundraising efforts and daily visits to brighten the day of patients and carers”.

Her Unsung Hero Award nomination states: “A long-standing committee member of the NI Simmental Cattle Breeders’ Club, she has held the position of chairperson on two occasions, 1997 and 2007.

“In fact, Thelma Gorman has been the only lady chairperson in the club’s history.”

The nomination papers add: “She is a pillar of her local community, and the wider farming community, giving so much of her time in a voluntary capacity to help others.”