Tributes for popular farmer Geordie Tuft

Geordie Tuft was a regular contributor to BBC Radio Ulster's Gerry Anderson Show
Geordie Tuft was a regular contributor to BBC Radio Ulster's Gerry Anderson Show

Tributes to tragic radio contributor and farmer Geordie Tuft have been led by his grieving sister and BBC personalities.

Mr Tuft, 75, died in a lunchtime blaze at his Legananny Road home in Loughbrickland, Co Down on Tuesday.

The fire service is treating the blaze as accidental.

On Wednesday, his 78-year-old sister Nan Cochrane from Banbridge said she has been “moved” by the number of people who have contacted her since her brother’s passing.

“I still cannot understand how the fire started,” she said.

“He had been in Banbridge yesterday (Tuesday) and was speaking to a couple of friends of mine. Then he came home and that was it.

“I could not believe it as when I got to the place (his home) it was riddled with smoke,” she added.

“I wasn’t allowed to go near it because they were afraid of the roof coming down. He died in the blaze. They said it was smoke that killed him because it was vicious.”

Mrs Cochrane, who said her brother’s funeral has not yet been arranged, said she was finding the tragedy “very difficult”.

“I think this is the biggest blow ever I had,” she said.

“You don’t realise how good people are and how thoughtful they are until something like this happens. I loved him very, very much.”

Also paying tribute to Mr Tuft, BBC’s Sean Coyle added: “Geordie was a man who brought many a laugh and we really enjoyed his company.”

Mr Coyle told the News Letter that he initially came into contact with Mr Tuft through numerous phone calls he made to the Gerry Anderson Show.

He said initially he didn’t know whether Mr Tuft had been “trying to be funny or was a real character”.

“Then one morning I asked him to talk to Gerry and the two of them just hit it off,” he said.

“During the conversation we could see Gerry lying back, putting the feet up on the desk and enjoying the conversation, thinking this was ‘manna’ from Heaven.

“Geordie was from a different world.”

Mr Coyle added that Mr Tuft joined Mr Anderson and himself on outside broadcasts where he “became an attraction”.

“He didn’t want any special treatment, but you had to keep an eye on him when you were doing broadcasts because he would wander off,” added Mr Coyle.

“There were no airs and graces about him and he was fabulous to work with. He had no ego whatsoever.”

Earlier, Michael Bradley, who produced the Gerry Anderson Show, said hearing about Mr Tuft’s passing was “a very sad day”.

“I remember Geordie coming in to an outside broadcast and it was like Elvis entering the building,” he said.