Tributes to tragic Orange military man, firefighter and Christian

John Winton, 51.
John Winton, 51.

A firefighter, bandsman, Orangeman and former soldier who died after being struck by the bin lorry he was working on yesterday was described as an “upright, Christian man”.

John Winton, a 51-year-old father-of-two, died from the injuries he sustained following the collision in his home town of Limavady at around 7.30am yesterday.

Graham Stewart, Worshipful Master of Roe Valley Ex-Servicemen’s Lodge 997, was amongst those to pay tribute to the 51-year-old.

“John was what he was,” Mr Stewart said. “He was a hard working man, very active. He never stopped.

“He was an upright, honest, hard working Christian man. That’s what he was.”

Mr Winton, a retained firefighter at the station in Limavady, was described as “extremely popular amongst his colleagues” in a tribute by the Chief Fire and Rescue Officer Gary Thompson.

Mr Thompson has also pledged support for his colleagues at Limavady Fire Station, who were called to the scene of the horrific incident yesterday morning.

John Winton was also a member of Star of the Roe Flute Band in his youth before re-joining the band upon his return to the Co Londonderry town from his time overseas in the military and later in the private security industry.

The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland were at the scene of the collision yesterday afternoon, and confirmed in a statement that they are investigating the tragic incident.

Mr Winton’s employers, the Causeway Coast and Glens council, also confirmed that an investigation into the collision is ongoing.

The Mayor, Brenda Chivers, offered condolences on behalf of the council to Mr Winton’s family.

The PSNI confirmed that the collision involved the refuse collection vehicle Mr Winton was working on in the Mount Eden area.

Paying tribute to his friend and colleague in LOL 997, Graham Stewart continued: “He was full time in the military and he then went into the army reserve as well. John was what he was. He was a hard working man, very active. He never stopped.

“He was full of stories from his life in the armed forces. He served in, I believe Bosnia as well as Iraq. When he came out of that he did private security work across in warmer climates again.

“To come from humble roots in Limavady and go away to dedicate himself to the military full time, to serve his country, at that time in Northern Ireland would not have been an easy decision.

“That was a dangerous thing to do and if ever he came back to visit his family he was under risk, but he always believed that the cause was there to be fought for.

“He fought for freedom, he fought for justice and he obviously did himself proud. He did Limavady proud.

“He was a good, honest man who served well.”

Mr Stewart continued: “When he came back to Limavady for the second time he certainly put his roots down.

“He joined the band again (Star of the Roe Flute Band) and he joined the Orange Order. He was very communinty based, he was very into the Orange community. He certainly kept himself busy.”

He added: “From the point of view of the Lodge, John will be sincerely missed. We will all miss John. We will miss the presence that he brought to the lodge meeting. He will be missed on all occasions. Our condolences must go to his friends, family and everyone else.”

Limavady District Master Mark Smyth added: “We are deeply shocked and saddned to learn of this tragedy and we offer sincere condolences to his family.”

Chief Fire and Rescue Officer, Gary Thompson said: “John was a Retained Firefighter at Limavady Fire Station, having joined NIFRS (Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service) almost two years ago on 19 November 2016.

“His untimely death at the age of 51 will be greatly felt by all who knew and worked with him. John was a dedicated firefighter serving his home town with distinction and he was extremely popular amongst his colleagues.”

Mr Thompson continued: “His death will be felt across the entire Service and the NIFRS family.”

He added: “NIFRS is offering support to John’s family and his colleagues at this difficult time.”

Causeway Coast and Glens Mayor Councillor Brenda Chivers said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with John’s family and friends and we offer them our heartfelt sympathies at this time.”