Funeral service for farm tragedy victim Norman Foster

The 77-year-old involved in a pre-Christmas Co Fermanagh “freak” farm tragedy would always help those in need and “always made time for people,” mourners at his funeral have heard.

Norman Foster had retired but still enjoyed working on the farm
Norman Foster had retired but still enjoyed working on the farm

Norman Foster was killed on December 23 while working on the family farm near Derrylin.

Although retired, he liked to stay active by helping out in whatever way he could, and spent last week visiting anyone he knew who was likely to feel isolated over the holiday period.

It is understood a large straw bale in a barn fell on the father-of-five, although the exact cause of death has not yet been made public.

A service of thanksgiving for his life took place at Knockninny Methodist Church yesterday, where he spent his last morning tidying the grounds.

Mr Foster’s daughter Gillian read from Psalm 113, son Jeffrey read from 1 Peter and granddaughter Bethany read from John, Chapter 6.

Son Steven, a methodist minister, then paid a moving tribute to his father, who had lived in the same house nearby for 67 years and was known to everyone.

“It is clear from all the words spoken over the past few days, in all the messages, that he was very well loved and deeply appreciated,” Steven said.

“That doesn’t really surprise us as a family, but it does make you sit back and reflect with deep gratitude.

“Right now we are in shock, and feeling that this devoted, fit and active 77-year-old husband, father, grandfather, brother, brother-in-law, uncle and friend is gone far too soon.”

Steven said his father “would always have time for people.”

He said: “No matter how active my father was with his work, people came first. He would always make time for people.

“He loved the people all around this area, and it was a love for everyone. It was clearly across the whole of the community. He believed in treating everyone with respect. “I thank God for Norman Foster.”

Steven said his father enjoyed Derrylin Bowling Club, but more for the chat and the fun than the bowling.

Mourners also heard that if Mr Foster had to be described in one word, that word “would probably be ‘genuine’”.

In a message posted on social media the day after the tragedy, Steven said his father was being his “active self” on the day he died.

“He was a very fit 77, out and about on the farm enjoying being his active self, when a freak accident happened. We’re all in shock,” he said.

Former Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott knew Mr Foster well.

He said: “Norman was a really decent guy and an absolute gentleman to everyone.

“He had a great [Christian] faith. And he not only had it on a Sunday, he had it every day of the week.

“Norman would never have said anything bad about anybody. He was a great source of support and help to people.”

UUP Erne West councillor Alex Baird described Mr Foster as a “stalwart within the community” and a “true gentleman”.

Cllr Baird added: “He was such a good man... one of the few people in life that nobody could say anything negative about”.

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