A peer and leading industrialist who died in a helicopter crash was an example of what hard work and determination can achieve, mourners at his funeral have been told.
Self-made multi-millionaire Lord Ballyedmond was killed earlier this month along with three others when the helicopter came down shortly after take-off in foggy conditions near an estate he owned in Gillingham, Norfolk.
Also known as Dr Edward Haughey, the 70-year-old businessman, who lived in Co Down, was considered to be one of Ireland’s richest men, with estimated wealth in excess of £800 million.
At requiem mass in Newry Cathedral, Co Down, Canon Francis Brown revealed the tycoon with a thirst for knowledge used his fortune for good, making many significant unpublished donations to charities and educational establishments.
“Lord Ballyedmond’s death is painful for many people,” the cleric said in his homily.
“Many people in Newry, and far beyond are suffering a huge loss. They are identifying, in the best way they can, with the pain and tremendous loss suffered by his wife Mary, his daughter Caroline, his sons Edward and James, the Haughey family and Edward’s many friends.”
Best known as chairman and founder of Co Down-headquartered Norbrook Laboratories, the largest privately-owned pharmaceutical company in the world, the father-of-three had a range of other business interests.
“He was a self taught, hard working, determined individual who had a thirst for knowledge,” said Canon Brown.
Stressing the importance the businessman’s family held in his life, the priest said the “great influence” he had on others extended beyond relations and friends.
“Edward made many significant donations over the years to educational establishments and charitable organisations,” he said.
“Most of these were never published and many charities and schools in the locality benefited. He had a keen interest in the development of the science subjects in all educational establishments.”
The service, which was attended by hundreds of mourners, was held ahead of burial across the Irish border in Lord Ballyedmond’s native county of Louth.
Declan Small, Dr Haughey’s site foreman at the Norbrook plant in Newry, also died in the crash. The 42-year-old’s funeral was held yesterday in his home town of Mayobridge, Co Down.
Helicopter pilots Capt Carl Dickerson, 36, and Capt Lee Hoyle, 45, were also killed when the Agusta Westland AW139 came down in a field. The cause of the incident has yet to be determined with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch examining the circumstances.
A life peer with a seat in the House of Lords, first on behalf of the Ulster Unionist Party before switching to the Conservative Party, Dr Haughey had also previously sat in the upper house of the Republic of Ireland’s parliament, the Seanad.
As well as the stately home in Norfolk, he owned Ballyedmond Castle in Rosstrevor, Co Down, and Corby Castle in Cumbria, as well as a property in Belgrave Square, London.
Born in 1944 in Dundalk, Co Louth, he began his pharmaceutical career in the US in the 1960s selling animal drugs.
He returned to Newry to set up his own business and founded Norbrook more than 40 years ago.
The company proved to be a highly innovative business and increased its margins by making many of the raw ingredients used in its medicines.
He expanded into Africa and became one of the largest veterinarian suppliers on the continent.
Two of his companies, Norbrook Laboratories and Norbrook Holdings, employ around 3,000 people worldwide, two thirds of them in Northern Ireland.
He also owned an air travel business, and at one stage the lease of Carlisle Airport in Cumbria, which he sold in 2008.
Apart from Northern Ireland and London, he had a house in Dublin’s expensive Fitzwilliam Square, close to the city centre, owned two islands on Lake Victoria in Uganda, and was a collector of rare plants and trees.
In July 2008 he was made an honorary doctor of science by the University of Ulster.