Mourners hear tributes to murdered couple

The funeral of Michael and Marjorie Cawdery.  Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press
The funeral of Michael and Marjorie Cawdery. Picture Mark Marlow/pacemaker press

Warm tributes were paid to murdered Portadown couple Michael and Marjorie Cawdery at a joint funeral service today (Thursday).

Marjorie was described as “kind” and “lovely” and her husband Michael as possessing “a bright and inquisitive mind”.

Marjorie and Michael Cawdery

Marjorie and Michael Cawdery

The couple, both aged 83, were murdered in their Upper Ramone Park home on May 26. They had been married for more than 55 years.

The service in Drumcree Parish Church was conducted by rector, the Rev Gary Galway.

A large number of mourners, from as far away as the USA, Isle of Man, Britain and many parts of Ireland, attended the service along with members of the close family circle.

Family members included Michael’s brother Paddy, his sister Sally and Marjorie’s brother Ned, as well as the couple’s three children Shirley, Wendy and Graham, son-in-laws Brian and Charles, and four grandchildren, Peter, Calum, Alex and Tasha.

Colin Wilkins, Marjorie’s nephew, delivered a eulogy, describing Marjorie as “one of the most lovable people that I will ever know. The best words to describe Marjorie are ‘kind’ and ‘lovely’ – and her greatest quality -loving kindness.

“Marjorie was an incredibly soft-hearted, patient and generous person. She was a delight to be around. She loved life and made everyone around her happy, with her positive sense of fun – and the fact that she was always more interested in other people rather than herself. Nobody who knew Marjorie will ever forget how special she was. We will carry memories of her in our hearts for ever.”

In his eulogy for his brother, Paddy said that Michael “possessed a bright and inquisitive mind. To the end, he was engaged in using his skills to the benefit of others through the medical and veterinary communities in Britain and Ireland”.

The Rev Galway also paid tribute to the couple in his address saying, “A person once said that it is not words but actions that speak louder and to witness love in action is a beautiful thing.

“I have witnessed this love in action through the family, through friends, through the church and through the community and I have to say it is beautiful. No one can dispute that a horrible act was committed and the family have been devastated by such an act, but they remain resilient and continue to be such a comfort and strength to each other.

“My heart and the heart of this community goes out to the family and I know from speaking to many within our church and in the local community who are in faith, that they continue to uphold the family in their prayers.”

The service included the hymn Abide with Me marking Michael’s early education at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, and Morning Has Broken, which was a favourite of Marjorie’s.

The family have expressed their gratitude to the community in Upper Ramone Park and throughout Portadown and wider afield for their expressions of condolence and simple acts of remembrance such as the leaving of flowers.

They said, “Support to the family has also been provided by members of Drumcree Parish Church which is attended by Shirley, the couple’s elder daughter, and for this we are very grateful.

“We are still deeply shocked by the terrible events of 26th May and it will take time to accept them. But we are pleased that so many people have contacted us to pay tribute to Michael, a man of enormous intellect and hands-on ability who never ceased learning, and Marjorie, his devoted wife and partner for over 55 years. We remember her as a gentle, warm and humorous mother and grandmother.”

Michael, a veterinary surgeon, was educated at Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, and Trinity College, Dublin. He gained other qualifications including from London School of Tropical Medicine and the Open University.

His 50 years of veterinary service in Ireland was recognised by the awarding of a special medal by the Veterinary Council of Ireland in 2011.

Marjorie was educated at Wesley College, Dublin, and the couple were married in 1962 in Entebbe, Uganda. They spent their early married life in Uganda and both maintained a deep love for East Africa throughout their lives.

Michael had a long career in veterinary research, first in East Africa and then from 1965 to 1989 with Teagasc, the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Authority.

He took early retirement and became an independent veterinary medicine consultant.

He wrote a number of seminal papers which are still referred to in the present day.

Following the funeral, there was a private committal at Roselawn Crematorium.