Popular man who led busy life

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Popular Waringstown man Wilfred Gardiner was a man who lived life to the full and had a long-running passion for sport.

He died on August 25 shortly after celebrating his 84th birthday.

Wilfie was born on August 4, 1930 - the youngest of six brothers and sisters, his siblings being Ellie, Ginny, Myrtle, Martha and Jimmy.

He was born at home on the Mill Hill and never moved far from his place of birth. Wilfie lived in the heart of Waringstown all his life, his last place of residence being Waring Terrace in the centre of the village where he lived with his wife Muriel.

John Henning and Sons gave Wilfie his start on January 1, 1947 as an apprentice tenter. The company manufactured Irish linen, damask and handkerchiefs.

In the seventies he worked as a machine setter in the Optical.

He continued in the manufacturing sector for his entire working life, joining Baird’s factory as a cloth passer.

He was a hard worker who barely missed a day.

Wilfie and his wife Muriel celebrated 62 years of marriage this year, after getting hitched on April 26, 1952 in Shankill Parish Church.

They went on to have three children - Edwin, Colin and Wilson.

Colin went to university in Bath and now runs his own pharmacy in Brighton. Edwin lives in Donaghcloney and Wilson lives in Carrick Drive. Both followed their father into working with their hands, Wilson as an engineer and Edwin as a joiner.

Sport played a huge role in Wilfie’s life. He started out as a footballer with a team from Waringstown called Fitzroy.

The team was started up by Wilfie’s uncles Jimmy and Joe Gardiner. They’d no tops to play in so they sourced a pile of flour bags emblazoned with the name of the company Fitzroy.

In addition to creating their own football strips, Jimmy and Joe, were quite the innovators. They developed photos in the stream by the house and ran their own electricity.

As well as football Wilfie played cricket for Waringstown, progressing to the second XI during his playing days, and being one of the villagers’ most loyal supporters after retiring from the crease.

He also played cricket for Crossbows when he worked there. Crossbows played their games in Lurgan Park beside the fountain, with Wilfie’s starring in the same team along with Peter Reith, Dickie Maxwell, Freddie Foye and Jim Buchanan.

Wilfie’s keen eye for detail at work gave him an advantage when it came to his other sporting past time - darts. He was a highly regarded thrower and played for various teams in the Waringstown and Donaghcloney area as well as holding positions of treasurer and match secretary for the region.

His son Wilson followed him into darts and together they refereed some of the top matches in Northern Ireland.

He loved watching darts and cricket on the television, but although he followed Glenavon, he often commented that football wasn’t the same as when he played.

He also had links to rugby union. Wilfie’s sister Myrtle’s daughter is married to British Lions and Wales legend Phil Bennett, who Wilfie was able to secure as special guest speaker for Lurgan Rugby Club’s sportsman’s dinner two years ago.

Wilfie had many friends in the village of Waringstown including former primary school headmaster Bob Hunter who helped Wilfie and Muriel get their first house. He also took part in the local men’s club with Billy Aughey and Kenny Harrison. He enjoyed a joke with former Waringstown cricketer Eddie Bushe, had regular chats with Glenavon ace Jimmy Jones and had fond memories of his childhood friend Sandy Orbinson who emigrated to Australia in the 1950s.

To list all of Wilfie’s friends would take the entire edition of the Lurgan Mail given the man’s good nature, on-the-go lifestyle and virtual omnipresence within the village of Waringstown.

After retirement he continued to stay active as caretaker of the church parochial hall on Mill Hill and also lent a hand as patrol man at Waringstown Primary School.

Commenting on his busy lifestyle Muriel said: “He never worried about anything. He hadn’t a care in the world.

“I only saw him when he was hungry or needed a change of clothes.

“He liked to be out and about and I liked to be at home.”

While it’s true that Wilfie was always on-the-go and was extremely committed to his sporting forays, Muriel revealed that in his latter years he enjoyed time in front of the TV with her, pulling his armchair over to hers, so they could watch the darts together.

Wilfie’s funeral took place last Wednesday at Malcomsons Funeral Home followed by interment in Lurgan Cemetery.