A fireman to the core - Nial is laid to rest

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‘A ‘loving husband and father, son and brother’ - the words describing Lurgan firefighter Nial Hamilton at his funeral on Thursday.

Hundreds of mourners gathered at St Michael’s Church in Trory, Enniskillen for Mr Hamilton’s funeral. He died suddenly after tackling a car fire in Lurgan’s Kilwilke estate last week.

Police outriders and two fire appliances led the large cortege from the family home in Rossole Road to the rural church where an address was relayed to those unable to find a seat beside the building.

The 44 year old married father of two had collapsed after tackling a burning car in the town’s Kilwilke estate on Monday night.

First aid was administered by colleagues and paramedics at the scene but Mr Hamilton, who had served with the NI Fire and Rescue Service for more than 23 years, died later at Craigavon Hospital.

A post mortem examination was carried out on Tuesday last week but further tests are due following inconclusive results.

Full Fire Service honours were given to the popular firefighter who had also been committed to road safety and also worked for a time as road traffic instructor.

Outside the church where Mr Hamilton married his wife Ruth eight years ago, fire service colleagues formed a solemn guard of honour with pallbearers, a piper and bugler lining out to pay their respects.

Southern area commander John Denvir led the tributes while the Fireman’s Prayer was read out by crew commander Liam Hanna.

Also taking part in the service were Mr Hamilton’s three sisters Pamela, Avril and Jennifer who read the scripture.

In his address the Rev Mark Watson paid tribute to the Lurgan firefighters of ‘white’ watch for their ‘courage, compassion and comradeship’ towards their colleague at the scene of the tragedy and later towards his family as they sought to come to terms with their devastating loss.

The only son of Vera and Eric Hamilton, he said Nial had grown up in Enniskillen and attended Jones Memorial and Portora Royal Schools before joining the fire service as and eager 18 year old part timer.

Detailing the life of a dedicated family man, the minister recounted how Mr Hamilton had first met his wife at a fancy dress party when dressed as Kojak and the couple had married in St Michael’s Church in 2006 - later taking their two young sons Alex (6) and Rory (4) to be baptised there.

“Nial was a sports fan and active in helping others through charity work and in the road rescue team,” Rev Watson said.

“But most of all he was a loving husband and father, son and brother.

“He was a dedicated fireman, ineed I would say he was a fireman to his core.”