The eldest son of the late Tom Noble spoke movingly about his father as a man who was “genuinely interested in peace building and passionately believed in a united society”.

Mr. Noble died suddenly from a heart attack on Saturday. 

A former principal of Erne Integrated College he was a much-respected figure within Fermanagh both in the field of integrated education and in sport where he was an active coach with Enniskillen Royal Boat Club.

But he was first a husband a father and a grandfather. His son Gareth spoke about a man who was “tolerant and full of love”.

“I remember talking to him recently and we were counting up his grandchildren and reflecting on life and I said to him, well you have five children and seven grandchildren, and he said, ‘no, I have ten children’. And that was the way he was, he saw all our other halves as his children and he was able to help us all and offer advice and wisdom at every turn, through the good times and bad times. He was the go-to man in the family for that,” Gareth said.

Gareth went on to say that the reaction from the community has provided comfort for the family in this difficult time.

“It was a shock, obviously, and we are all very overwhelmed at the moment. The outpouring of support from so many people has been very touching however and it shows how he was respected by people who knew him,” he explained.

Mr Noble’s professional life saw him dedicate himself to integrated education and the building of bridges within society and Gareth explained that this was very evident in the home as well.

“He never was a person to push his opinions on other people and as kids growing up, he would always say to us that we would meet people with different opinions to ours and that did not mean that they were wrong, and we were right. He was a person who believed very much in tolerance and respect.”