The death of a former police officer who played a pivotal role in the farming community for many years, including the Fermanagh County Show, has sparked much shock and sadness.

Derek Quinton, described as an “exceptional individual” who contributed so much to Fermanagh life, died in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast last week after suffering from ill health.

Mr. Quinton lost his mother Alberta in the Enniskillen bombing in 1987 and during his years as a member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary witnessed much trauma but never according to those close to him considered himself a “victim”.

His sister Aileen said: "My brother was a man who took service seriously without taking himself seriously".

His friend Ann Orr said Mr. Quinton had a “great sense of humour” and will be remembered as “a leader of a man who made a real contribution wherever he went.”

She explained that he joined Garvary Young Farmers’ Club as a young man, an organisation that would shape the course of his life. He graduated from Queen’s University in Belfast with a degree in civil engineering before taking up employment with the Road Service in Omagh where he would remain until his retirement.

“As a civil engineer he had an amazing brain his interest lay in ICT using his skills to assist groups in their development. He was a key player who believed in bringing people and groups together sharing knowledge and experiences,” Ms Orr told The Impartial Reporter.

He later joined Fermanagh Farming Society as a YFC representative where he would serve the society for 50 years becoming a life member.

He travelled far and wide to meetings always, explained Ms Orr, “making a positive contribution.”

“You could depend on Derek, there would be no need to remind him of meetings. He had them catalogued in his latest mobile. He was a prime mover in the development and roll out of the computer management system in 2000 that a number of shows used successfully for many years.

“Derek's interest in show matters extended further afield as well and he was an elected member of the Irish Shows Association Board for 10 years and held the post of chairman of the Northern Region 2007 - 2015. On the ISA Board, he represented the interests of the Northern Region Shows with sound judgement and courteous respect,” she said.

Mr. Quinton served as County Fermanagh YFC County Chairman and was a member of the YFCU Executive committee. Following his exchange trip to Canada in 1977 he joined the Young Farmers Ambassadors and played an active role in its committee. As YFA UK Reunion Chairman in 1991 he welcomed delegates to Fermanagh and was subsequently elected National Chairman of the UK YFA. In 2006 he chaired the European International Farming Youth Exchange Alumni Association Conference at the Share Centre assisted by Secretary Pauline Armstrong for 200 delegates from all over the world. He included in the programme a trip to Fermanagh County Show.

“Incoming exchanges to Northern Ireland within the YFCU were often invited by Derek to tour Lough Erne on his boat. He was a great ambassador for Fermanagh through his attendance at YFA UK reunions, European IFYE Conferences and world conference including Australia. Derek amassed a huge network of friends from around the world. He never came back without an idea that we should trial,” she said.

Ms. Orr said Mr. Quinton “was born before his time” and loved gadgets.

“He had one of the first brick size mobile phones. He was at his best amongst a crowd of young people who had so much respect for him. Even in later days, he would always enquire about the young people who assist at Fermanagh Show, delighting in the fact that three of them are civil engineers, not forgetting his friends Joe and Lorna Graham would treat him to Christmas Dinner something he looked forward to immensely.

“He had a great sense of humour and we will remember him as a leader as a man who made a real contribution wherever he went, a true gentleman who will be sadly missed. May his soul be Heaven sent free over Quinton Hill,” said Ms. Orr.

Paying his own tribute, Kenny Donaldson, of South East Fermanagh Foundation, said: “I remember times with Derek in more recent years and those were happy times; I found him to have sharp wit, he possessed strong life values and was upright, he deeply appreciated the success that the Fermanagh Show had become.”