In his final days, George Young was asked by his son, Ian, whether he was hungry. “Hungry for knowledge,” came the reply.

It was a fitting response for a man whose passion for learning never waned in his 90 years of life.

Education was a true vocation for the former principal of the Enniskillen Collegiate girls’ grammar school, and his pioneering work in careers guidance and pastoral care left a legacy that stretched well beyond Co. Fermanagh.

Born in 1931, and raised in the austere surrounds of Working Class north Belfast, George was the youngest of eight children.

His memories of World War Two were vivid – particularly those of huddling under his father William’s coat in a ditch high in the hills above the city as Luftwaffe bombs rained down during the Blitz of 1941.

George was the first in his family to finish school and to go to university, with scholarships enabling him to pursue the academic path to which he was so suited.

He attended Methodist College and Queen’s University, where he studied classics. His love of Latin and ancient Greek remained constant throughout his life.

He began his teaching career in a prep school near Aberdeen before returning to Northern Ireland in 1956 to take up a job teaching classics at the Collegiate.

During those early years in Co. Fermanagh, he met Edna McClelland. He always recalled one occasion bumping into her walking from town, her arm looking like an artist’s palette, covered in lines of different lipsticks she had been trying out in a nearby shop. They married in 1966.

Soon afterwards, George left the Collegiate to teach at Portadown College, where he headed up the careers and classics departments.

In his time at Portadown, he gained a Diploma in Guidance and Counselling, becoming one of the first teachers in Northern Ireland to complete such a course.

While living in Co. Armagh, George and Edna’s first child, Ian, arrived, with Helen following two years later.

In 1976, the family returned to Enniskillen when George was appointed headmaster of the Collegiate. His and Edna’s third child, David, was born two years later.

George’s belief in the value of careers guidance and pastoral care shaped his approach as principal from the outset.

Within a year he had timetabled an individual careers lesson for every student in Form Four up – an initiative without precedent in the local education sector.

He was also an innovator when it came to preparing children for the often daunting transition from primary to secondary school.

George established a ground-breaking induction programme whereby he and senior colleagues would visit P7s across the county, ahead of their step up to First Form.

A committed egalitarian, he strove to ensure the contribution of every girl was appreciated within the Collegiate community.

While his 21-year tenure as principal was marked by a sustained period of academic success, he also sought to promote a nurturing learning environment, where students of all abilities could flourish.

George retired in 1997, the same year as Edna, who worked as a teacher at Enniskillen Model Primary School.

Together they embraced a new phase in their lives, travelling abroad on many occasions, whether to visit Ian, who for a time lived in Egypt, or Helen, who moved to Australia in the 1990s.

George and Edna were married for 49 years before her death in 2015 after a battle with Alzheimer’s.

His steadfast devotion during her years of ill health proved a source of inspiration and deep comfort for the rest of the family.

George had a great love for sport, particularly golf and football.

He was a long-standing member of Enniskillen Golf Club and attended international soccer matches for eight decades, even making it to the European Championships in France in 2016 at the age of 84.

That was a trip with added poignancy, as it also afforded him the opportunity to visit The Somme, where his father saw action in 1916 during World War One.

At a recent Northern Ireland match at Windsor Park, weeks after his passing, the crowd applauded in tribute to George’s memory.

He was also an avid reader. In isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, he re-read the complete works of both Shakespeare and Dickens to pass the time.

His favourite author was P. G. Wodehouse, and the immaculately ordered shelves of his Enniskillen home were packed with the humourist’s novels, many more than 70 years old, and with his childhood address in Belfast neatly inscribed on the first page.

It was apt then that his family chose a quote from one of his best-loved Wodehouse books – Carry On, Jeeves – as they closed his funeral tribute, confident that George and his beloved Enda had been reunited once again.

"It would appear, sir," said Jeeves, "that everything has concluded most satisfactorily after all."