A NEWTOWNBUTLER centenarian, who was regarded as ‘Northern Ireland’s oldest policeman’, has been laid to rest.

Noble Hetherington passed away peacefully, at the age of 102, on Thursday of last week.

At his funeral held in Galloon Parish Church, Newtownbutler on Sunday, January 27, his warm personality and endearing influence was fondly recalled.

The service was attended by members of the local community, and a guard of honour was carried out by the RUC George Cross Association in recognition of his service in the RUC Reserve during his younger years.

Until his passing last week, he was Northern Ireland’s oldest living retired policeman.

During her sermon, Reverend Lorraine Capper gave a personal tribute to Noble in which she referred to his sense of humour and warm personality.

His eldest son, John, then gave a eulogy in which he delivered a personal message on behalf of the family.

The word ‘love’ was used many times in John’s talk, as he recounted his father’s love for the outdoors, for his wife, children, grandchildren, friends and also for God and his local Parish of Galloon.

According to both John and Rev. Capper, he also loved tea, chocolate biscuits and a wee Bushmills!

“As I am standing up here today, I realise how fortunate we were to have him as a father,” John said.

“There are not words to express his influence on our lives. He led a full and complete life, and we are all proud of him.”

Mourners heard how Noble was born in what is now the Cherry Tree Bakery in Lisnaskea. At just four years old, he moved to a 30-acre farm at Kilgarrett, where he lived for the rest of his life.

He was 18 when World War Two broke out, and although he would have liked to join the RAF, he was needed at home to help keep the farm running. He joined the Home Guard and trained regularly with them.

During the IRA Border Campaign (1956 - 1962), the bridges across Upper Lough Erne between Lisnaskea and Derrylin became a target.

Noble joined the RUC Reserve, and for a number of years was deployed to guard the bridges, mainly on night shift.

Whilst on duty he was involved in an accident as two land rovers collided on a frosty morning. He was unfortunately caught between them and lost a leg in the collision.

After retirement from the police, he continued to farm at Kilgarrett, rebuilding the thatched house on the site as a modern farmhouse, and marrying Margaret Walsh from Scotshouse in Co. Monaghan.

The couple had three children – John, Jean and Cecil.

“The farm became a small dairy farm, but he continued to run it in an old-fashioned way with a mix of activities,” recalled John.

“He kept hens and ponies, grew vegetables, had a few beef cattle as well as dairy, and even cut turf for the family hearth in the bog right up until the late 1980s.

“He also rucked hay, progressing only slowly to new-fangled haymaking methods such as baling. However, he never really took to silage!” said John.

Noble and Margaret enjoyed a long and happy retirement at Kilgarrett, with frequent visits to the homeplace by their children, grandchildren and extended family.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret; children, John, Jean and Cecil; and eight grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements were by Dowler Funeral Services.