A Co Armagh woman who tragically died in a farm accident last week had witnessed her uncle’s death at the hands of the IRA over 40 years ago, mourners at her funeral were told.
There was standing room only in Armagh Free Presbyterian Church today as several hundred people gathered to say goodbye to Thelma Gorman, a much-loved cattle-breeder, community volunteer and highly-active member of the wider farming fraternity.
The 67-year-old sadly lost her life after being struck by a cow on Friday.
During his eulogy for Mrs Gorman, Rev David McMillen recounted how the former nurse had been first on the scene after her uncle, Joe Reid was gunned down by the IRA over four decades ago.
Mr Reid, a UDR soldier, was shot on his own doorstep in August 1975. Mrs Gorman administered first aid but her uncle sadly died in her arms.
Rev McMillen said that day “was something she never forgot”.
Mourners also heard that Mrs Gorman had a passion for farming, having been raised on a farm in Co Armagh.
She established her Woodview pedigree Simmental Herd almost 40 years ago, and had been dedicated to promoting the breed at agricultural shows across the country.
A long-standing committee member of the NI Simmental Cattle Breeders’ Club, she was the only lady chairperson in the club’s history.
In recognition of her work, Mrs Gorman was awarded the Farming Life Unsung Hero Award 2016.
A highly energetic member of the local community, Mrs Gorman had been active within the Free Presbyterian Church in Armagh. She was also been a fundraiser for charity, and someone who had opened her home to provide respite care for children with learning difficulties.
While she did not have any children of her own, Rev McMillen said Mrs Gorman had “been like mother to so many”.
He added: “Thelma couldn’t help but make friends. She instantly won you over with her smile, personality and bubbly conversation.
“I am proud to be numbered among her many friends, as many of you are too.”
DUP MLA William Irwin, who had known Mrs Gorman personally for many years, said yesterday’s funeral service was “a fitting tribute to a wonderful woman”.
He told the News Letter: “It was a very large funeral and shows the level of esteem Thelma was held. Many people are still in shock over what has happened.
“The minister gave a glowing tribute to Thelma, as did her nephew, with whom she was very close.
“She was a true Christian lady who loved life, was gracious with everyone she met and showed compassion to all.”
Tragically, Mrs Gorman had been due to celebrate her 46th wedding anniversary on Monday.
“She and her husband had been due to go on a cruise this week, which makes what happened all the more difficult to deal with,” Mr Irwin added.
Lord Mayor of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Alderman Gareth Wilson said: “The fondness that many people had for her and it reflected in the huge turn out for the service.
“Thelma will be greatly missed by her husband Peter and the wider family circle and I continue to remember the family in my prayers.”