There was widespread sadness across the county when popular Florencecourt woman Maud Cunningham passed away aged 73 on November 3 after a battle with cancer. Maud was a stalwart of many organisations in the community. She was involved in church life with St. John’s, Church of Ireland, Florencecourt and the Kilmore Diocese as well as being one of the key co-ordinators of Girlguiding across Fermanagh. Alongside all her many activities Maud was the longest serving member of the Fermanagh branch of the North West Mountain Rescue. Maud’s dedication to the community led to her being awarded a BEM in recognition of her outstanding work in the local community in January 2016. She received further royal recognition a few years when in April 2019 when she received maundy money from the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Maud’s younger brother Reggie led tributes to his sister. He said: “She had some life, she was a very positive influence on everyone around her.”

Maud was born on June 16 1947, the eldest daughter of Freddie and Lily Cunnigham. She was an older sister to Freda and Reggie. Reggie explained that Maud’s love of animals came from growing up on the family farm in Clonatumpher. Reggie said: “Maud went to Lisblake school and then on to Florencecourt Primary School, where she was one of the first pupils. She then went to Fermanagh Technical College before going to Londonderry to do a teaching qualification. She then went on to teach in Portadown College, she often had young people from Fermanagh stay with her while they were doing courses in the college.”

Reggie added: “She was always doing good for people, always.”

Maud retired from full time lecturing in the mid-nineties and returned to Fermanagh full-time to help care for her mother and to take on part-time teaching work in Fermanagh College and later South West College in 1996. She served as a business administrator and training tutor where she worked with a wide range of learners of different abilities. Reggie added: “She had a real flair for bringing students on.”

One aspect of her life that impacted many across Fermanagh was her involvement with Girlguding. Maud was involved with First Florencecourt Guides from 1978. Maud served in many roles within Guiding in Fermanagh including County Commissioner from 1987- 1993. She was awarded the Anderson Plate in 1986 for outstanding service to the county and a Laurel award in 1993 for outstanding services to Girlguiding UK-wide.

Reggie said: “She organised an Ulster International Camp and was a regular on the camping scene. One story was that one particularly wet year in Castle Saunderson, all the Guides were sent inside. Maud being Maud decided to face the elements and camp outside despite the rain.”

Reggie became emotional as he read a tribute to Maud from Sue Hogg, a long-time friend of Maud and a former Girlguidng Ulster Chief Commissioner. In her tribute Sue said: “Maud was a legend in her own time for her work with children and girls whom she loved and is probably one of the most unselfish people I have ever met. She set standards, she had great integrity and the guide promise and laws stood at the heart of everything she did.”

Maud loved working with young people. Reggie listed some of the many organisations Maud was involved in: “Fermanagh youth council, who she helped put on concerts with, Florencecourt Youth Club, Western Education and Library Board Youth Board where she served on a committee for youth interests.”

“Maud was an active member of St. John’s Church, Killesher where she served as a Sunday school superintendent for many years. She was active in the Kilmore Elphin and Ardagh Diocese where she served as a lay reader and as the diocesan secretary. She had been involved in different work over the years and took some children to Los Angeles and Ohio over the years.”

Maud was heavily involved in the local branch of North West Mountain Rescue; she had volunteered for some 25 years with the group and at the time of her passing she was serving as president of the North West Mountain Rescue and as a Trustee. She had received a distinguished service award from Mountain Rescue Ireland in honour of her commitment and dedication to the organisation.

Speaking on Maud’s many interests Reggie remarked that “Maud was often late, when one person would do one thing a day, Maud would do three. She was always doing something.”

Reggie said: “As a sister she was a great big sister who was always helpful and there when you needed her. She was very generous, we often suggested that she needed to slow down but it fell on deaf ears.” Reggie and his wife, Helena had lovingly cared for Maud toward the end of her life and will “miss her terribly.”

Maud is survived by her sister Freda (Basil) and brother Reggie (Helena). Her nieces and nephews; Alison, Nicola, David, Mark, Rachael and Laura and her great nieces and nephews.

Maud was buried in St. John’s Church, Killesher on November 6 after a service in the church. Her family thanked North West Moutain Rescue and the Guides for the guard of honour that was performed. The service was conducted by Rev Ruth West, prayers were led by Bishop Ferran Glenfield and funeral arrangements were carried out by W.T Morrison Funeral Directors.