Guide Dog named after tragic bandswoman

Members of Cahard Flute Band, Saintfield with representatives from Guidedogs For The Blind
Members of Cahard Flute Band, Saintfield with representatives from Guidedogs For The Blind

A guide dog pup will be named after a bandswoman who was tragically killed in an accident as she left the field at a Twelfth demonstration in Killyleagh three years ago.

Mervyn Barr, whose young son Joshua (then nine years old) was injured in the same accident in which Deborah Jordan died, has been co-ordinating a fundraising effort in memory of the 30-year-old since the accident.

The two had been walking together out of the field with the rest of Cahard Flute Band, Saintfield, to start the return parade on July 12, 2009.

Deborah’s death caused a shock wave across not just the parading world, but also the tight-knit community in Saintfield where she lived and worked on her parents’ farm.

Last Wednesday, the final part of the £5,212 fund raised in memory of Deborah was handed over to the local Guide Dogs for the Blind branch.

Mervyn explained that the charity is one that had been particularly special to Deborah, who had loved dogs. It was also one of the charities chosen by her parents for donations when she died.

“What sparked it off was that Deborah’s death was such a blow to Cahard Flute Band, so I spoke to the officers of Saintfield District and everyone agreed that it would be a good idea to do something in her memory,” Mervyn told the News Letter.

Money was collected during the Twelfth demonstration in 2010, 2011 and 2012, while Deborah’s parents, Saintfield District, Cahard Flute Band, Banner of the Cross LOL 1310 and Lower Iveagh Cultural and Heritage Society gave donations to the fund. Money was also donated by Ravara Vintage Rally.

Mervyn said that money was donated by people from all sides of the community in the area. He said £5,000 was the figure they had been aiming for so a guide dog puppy could be named after Deborah and thanked everyone who had helped them to raise money for the fund.

“We are hoping that a pup will be named after her in the next six months, and that it will go to help someone who is blind or partially-sighted in Northern Ireland,” he said.