The wife of the late Tim Shields has paid tribute to her “kind and generous” husband who has given the gift of life to others through organ donation following his untimely passing.

Tim (47), late of Abbey Road, Maguiresbridge, formerly Templepatrick, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday, July 1.

Speaking lovingly of her caring late husband of 15 and a half years, Monica Shields said: “Tim was the kindest, nicest man you’d ever meet. He was just a great guy and he’d always just want to make sure everybody was okay, that everyone around him had all that they needed.

“If there was anything he could do to help, he’d help. He was so helpful and supportive – he was always there when you needed him,” she said.

A loving father to his two children, Ben and Madeleine, Tim was “always dependable and thoughtful”, Monica told this newspaper.

“He was such a wonderful daddy. If his leg was hanging off him and the kids wanted to play football, off he’d go out and play,” said Monica.

For 22 years, Tim worked for the BBC’s archive department – a job that he “absolutely loved”.

Tim’s boss, Marinda Hamill, spoke fondly of her late colleague. “To us, Tim was known as ‘The Oracle’, the keeper of BBC NI archives. His passion for and knowledge of our archives was renowned.

“His wit, his warmth and unswerving support will be so missed by so many across all parts of the BBC.”

Tim’s brother, Jeremy Shields, who worked with him at the BBC, spoke highly of his only sibling, calling him “very kind and very thoughtful”.

“I was very privileged to work with my brother. That’s probably going to be the most difficult thing that I have to try to come to terms with.

“Although we worked in different departments, we worked reasonably closely,” said Jeremy, who also had a close brotherly relationship and shared many interests with Tim, including Arsenal Football Club, history and steam engines.

Commenting that he misses Tim’s general calming presence, and his personality, he added: “It’s very hard to put it into words. I just miss him being there – he was always somebody I could talk to.”

In his spare time, Tim loved travelling and learning about the world.

Talking about his other interests, Monica said: “He enjoyed the Maguiresbridge Camera Club and the Arsenal Supporters Football Club.

“He was reliable and dependable in supporting the local groups he was involved in.

“He also loved steam engines and railways. I used to tease him constantly about that,” she added with a laugh.

Explaining that Tim’s death was unexpected, Monica said: “Everyone is just in complete shock. There wasn’t a hint of anything; he was a bit more anxious than normal, and the lockdown certainly didn’t help.

“I would still say he didn’t suffer depression; it was anxiety he suffered. Little did I know it was to this extent, but it’s the whole thing of ‘men don’t talk’.

Mental health

“Something really has to change – maybe we should have a mental health check-up as often as we have a dental check-up,” she said, going on to say that she believes the Northern Ireland Executive needs to do more to help those struggling with their mental health.

“Our health service is on its knees. There’s finally a bit of momentum behind mental health, and just things have to change.”

Expressing her gratitude that, as per Tim’s wishes, his organs were able to be donated to help others, she said: “I’m so grateful for that,” adding how particularly thankful she was for the paramedics’s efforts and their work with Tim.

“[Tim’s decision to donate his organs] has really helped the kids a lot, and helped me a lot, the discussions and the journey he had to the ICU and the transplant team was amazing.

“I went from the sudden horror of finding him, to all of a sudden having an extra week with him, and to be able to explain to the children and brace ourselves to accept that this has happened,” said Monica.

Tim’s funeral was arranged by Swift & McCaffrey Funeral Directors, and the service took place at Holy Cross Church, Lisnaskea, with burial afterwards in the adjoining cemetery.

With Covid regulations in place, 100 people could attend the funeral in person; however, 1,800 people logged in to view the service online and to pay their respects.

“It gave us tremendous comfort to know he was loved by so many people,” said Monica, who wanted to thank everybody for all the support. “It’s a tribute to the kind, humble, generous man that Tim was.”

A much-loved husband of Monica, a devoted father to Madeleine and Ben, a dear son of Irene and the late Brian, and a loving brother to Jeremy, Tim is sadly missed by his whole family circle.