Royal Black holds memorial service for former leader Millar Farr

Millar Farr's widow Margaret (centre), daughter Jayne and son Ivan at the memorial service in Cookstown
Millar Farr's widow Margaret (centre), daughter Jayne and son Ivan at the memorial service in Cookstown
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The Royal Black Institution has recognised one of its former leaders at a special memorial service in Co Tyrone.

Relatives of the late Millar Farr joined with members of the loyal order on Sunday to pay their respects to the past sovereign grand master, who died last year.

Millar Farr was sovereign grand master of the Royal Black Institution for 10 years

Millar Farr was sovereign grand master of the Royal Black Institution for 10 years

Mr Farr, 76, led the institution for 10 years, stepping down in June 2018.

Speaking during the memorial service, held at Molesworth Presbyterian Church in Cookstown, Imperial Grand Registrar and close friend, Billy Scott, paid tribute to Mr Farr on behalf of the institution.

He reflected on the former police officer’s “unfailing courtesy”, “complete integrity” and “faithfulness”.

“A genuinely nice man to meet, Millar treated everyone with courtesy and respect, even when they didn’t really deserve it,” Mr Scott recalled.

“At times when he was sorely tried – as he was on more than one occasion – he never allowed his own personal standards to slip and set an excellent example for others to follow.

“Many a man said to me when leaving after a meeting – you know, Billy, the grand master was far nicer to us than we really deserved. They were always right, but that was the mark of the man – fair, courteous and generous – but never foolish – in his judgments.”

The senior sir knight maintained Mr Farr’s word was “always his bond” and he always “spoke the truth as he saw it”.

He said: “I will never forget the look of astonishment on the face of a government minister, when Millar told him in just these few words – ‘The Royal Black is a Christian institution. If we are forced to make a choice, we will obey the Law of God rather than the laws of men, and we will accept the consequences.’

“That was the Millar we knew – never aggressive, but always straight, direct and honourable.”

Mr Scott continued: “Millar was faithful to his wife and family, faithful to his Queen and country, faithful to this institution and its teachings, but faithful above all to his Lord and Master and to his church.

“For Millar Farr, our meetings and degrees were not just something we did – they were things that really mattered to him and the teachings of our degrees, which as a very able lecturer he knew and understood in detail, were for him real precepts and lessons on which we should base our lives and conduct.”

Reflecting on Mr Farr’s legacy, Mr Scott referred to the institution’s planned new headquarters in Loughgall; the ongoing development of the loyal order’s charitable outreach; and the improved communication among its membership and with the wider public, among many other initiatives.

Sovereign Grand Master Rev William Anderson also paid tribute to the outstanding service of his predecessor.

He said: “Put simply Millar Farr was not just a member, he always gave of his best, he always became involved, he was hugely respected by his peers to the extent that he rose to the highest office within our institution.

“It was in this role that he provided wise, progressive and stable leadership for a decade, ensuring that our institution was true to its principles of standing for the reformed Christian faith.”

The memorial service was conducted by Rev Tom Greer. Rev Nigel Reid, imperial grand chaplain, delivered the sermon and praise was led by Ballyreagh Silver Band.

Mr Farr is survived by his wife, Margaret, children Ivan and Jayne, and the wider family circle.