An unassuming family man Roy Matchett preferred the simple life

Roy Matchett who passed away recently
Roy Matchett who passed away recently

Just a few weeks shy of his 91st birthday Roy Matchett has passed away, leaving a wonderful loving family legacy.

Roy was the son of Catherine and Ernest Matchett, formerly of The Birches where the family had owned The Hanging Sign bar. Ernest moved to Bluestone to farm and that is where Roy was born and reared.

He was the third of four children. Unfortunately his older sister Eileen Baird from Lurgan passed away one week before her brother. His other sister Joan Baird still lives in Waringstown and the youngest sister Flo passed away last February.

Having attended Lurgan Model Primary School, Roy’s first job was at Edwin Mason’s grocery store in Portadown.

However, his father Ernest took ill and Roy had to come home to the farm at Bluestone where he remained until he decided to retire.

Roy met Betty Turkington, whose father was the Station Master at Portadown Train Station. The couple met at the Savoy in Portadown. Roy’s handsome movie star looks were always mentioned and, with his dimpled chin, he was a ringer for Robert Mitchum.

They got married in August 1960 in Drumcree Parish Church and celebrated 58 years of marriage. Betty (81) said: “We were lucky to have him for so long.”

He loved his food - good home cooking - but the family would keep him going about how long he took over a meal.

The family belonged to the congregation of St Matthias’ Parish Church, Knocknamuckley, and there are fond memories of regularly being late and having to scurry up the aisle to reach pew Number 34 as the first hymn was being sung.

Roy would often reminisce about Sunday school excursions to Warrenpoint and taking a very small rowing boat across to Omeath when he couldn’t even swim.

Roy rarely had holidays and when one was planned livestock would either fall ill or breakout which meant he couldn’t get away.

On the rare occasion that he did holiday he loved to stay at his sister Flo’s house in Castlerock.

Roy will be remembered for his typical yard outfit, a grey woolly hat, green welly boots, dark blue boiler suit and bailer twine round his waist to keep the ensemble together.

A dedicated follower of fashion, Roy updated the bailer twine to blue plastic twine when it became all the rage for tying bales!

Roy will also be remembered for his firm handshake and tight grip hugs.

He was a hard worker and, as well as the farm, Roy worked as a taxi driver and driving a recovery vehicle. He regularly brought his daughters to work on his tractor in the snow and pulling over zealous drivers out of the hedges.

He loved farming and during the most difficult times of his illness he would talk about the farm and the cows and pigs. He had four dogs over his lifetime that the family are aware of, Tiny a little terrier; Bruce, a variety sheep dog and Roseando and Bona both German Shepherds.

Roy loved horses and ponies and passed on this love to Caroline and Sandra when he bought Tommy, a stallion and Robroy, a beautiful Palomino.

He also loved his timesaving, ‘organic lawn mowers’, two goats that he tethered on the lawn and they did a wonderful job of not only keeping the grass down but fertilising as well!

Roy loved nothing better than to come in at night from the farm and have just the one cigarette and watch either show jumping (he was a David Broom fan rather than a Harvey Smith) or boxing, especially Muhammad 
Ali.

“Roy wasn’t a smoker, one didn’t really count. I guess he didn’t want us to be smokers either as he bought a packet of cocktail cigarettes (multi coloured with gold filters and at Caroline’s birthday party many years ago in the Pot Belly handed them around and asked us to light up which we did and guess what none of us are smokers,” said his daughters.

He taught all his family to drive at the shores of Lough Neagh and the Bann Foot.

Roy adored his grandchildren and they loved him. He loved their company and always asked about them. He was very proud of them all. When asked how they would describe their grandad they said the following: a loving man; a caring man; a kind man; a quiet man; a gentleman.

Roy has been described as a kind, loving family man, quiet, unassuming and generous.

He was content with the simple life and led a life of humility and hard work. He was awake from early morning working through until dusk and later.

However, he always enjoyed a bit of craic.

He was primarily a family man and enjoyed visiting his children and grandchildren.

When he retired he always used the tractor to get about and enjoyed chatting to his fellow farmers at special events such as Bluestone Methodist Harvest Supper.

In later years he bore his illness with great dignity and fortitude.

A husband, loving father and grandfather and brother, his family are broken and miss him terribly.

They are anxious to praise the care assistants, Mandy and the dedicated team, Annette Woods of District Nursing, and the staff at Lough View Nursing Home in Milltown, Maghery, plus the Doctors and nursing Team of 4 South CAH.

Mr Matchett passed away on February 26 peacefully at hospital.

His funeral was in St Matthias Parish Church Knocknamuckley with interment the adjoining graveyard.

He will be lovingly remembered by his wife Betty, children Caroline, Pamela, Sandra and Owen, sons-in-law Kieran, David and Patrick, daughter-in-law Dawn, grandchildren Brett, Ben, Fabien, Alexandra and Christelle.