Community spirited craftsman and friend

The late Jimmy Cardwell. INLM3212-800con
The late Jimmy Cardwell. INLM3212-800con

JIMMY Cardwell, who has died peacefully aged 93, was a craftsman, a friend to many, community spirited and a wonderful father, brother, grandfather and great-grandfather.

James Cardwell was born in Waringstown on 24th November 1918, two weeks after the Armistice, which made him older than Northern Ireland. He was one of 10 children, three of whom died in infancy.

At his school, several of the children went to school bare-footed. Jimmy was not one of them but in order not to be thought superior in any way, he would hide his shoes in the hedge on the way to school and pick them up on the way home. The headmaster, Mr Hunter, evidently thought highly of Jimmy because when, in 1941, he wrote him a reference he recorded “a pupil of outstanding ability who on every occasion did his utmost to give satisfaction to his teachers” and one who “is honest and industrious and all his doings would bear the strictest scrutiny”.

He married Georgina (Georgie) Bateman in 1945 and they were married for over 61 years before her death in 2006. They began their married life living in The Valley in Waringstown before moving to Gilpin Park in Dollingstown, where they lived for over 60 years.

Jimmy’s main occupation was as a joiner, although he had many practical skills and could put his hand to anything. Throughout his life he worked with his father Jim and for various employers. The most significant employment was with the small construction firm owned by Issac Forsythe of Aghalee. In all occupations, he was a very highly regarded employee who set the very highest standards of workmanship and dedication.

In Dollingstown, Jimmy and his wife were very highly regarded members of the community. Their house was always open to their neighbours and Jimmy was often called upon to help friends and neighbours with large and small tasks which he did voluntarily and skilfully.

Jimmy’s family meant everything to him. He was always there when they needed him and he quietly rejoiced in the achievements of his children, grand-children and great grand-children. His love for his wife Georgie was there for all to see.

In his funeral address, Jimmy’s son Ken Cardwell said: “He worked tirelessly for all of us using his expertise on numerous occasions to offer advice and to help us with building, carpentry and other projects around our houses. He rejoiced in our successes and when he would say ‘you’ve done all right’ we knew how pleased he was. He was someone who never let us down.”

Jimmy loved to spend as much time as possible in his garage which was stocked with pieces of wood of all varieties and tools of all descriptions which were widely used and kept in perfect condition. He also loved sport, especially motor bike racing, Formula 1, snooker, cricket and tennis.

Jimmy had a great sense of humour. He loved listening to and telling stories. He could pick up on the idiosyncrasies of some individuals and enjoyed a bit of mimicry but never in a malicious way. He had nicknames for sportsmen and others. Peter Ebdon, snooker player, was always referred to as ‘Ponytail’ despite being bald for many years; Alex Ferguson, always chewing gum, was known as ‘Wrigleys’ and a man Jimmy knew, someone careful with his finances who would not spend money on coal preferring to forage for firewood in neighbouring woods, he called ‘Twigs’.

The family would like to thank everyone who attended Jimmy’s funeral at Hill Street Presbyterian Church on Sunday 29th July, and would like to thank the staff at ward four south at Craigavon Area Hospital for their excellent care in Jimmy’s final days.

Jimmy was a wonderful father, grand-father and great-grand-father and a friend to many. He will be much missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him.

He is survived by his brother Bobby, sister Lizzie and three children, Deirdre, Ken and Barbara, seven grandsons and three great-grand-sons.