Hundreds of mourners gathered at Christchurch last Friday during a funeral service for well-known Carrickfergus man, Alan Hamilton.
Mr Hamilton, who was chairman of Carrickfergus Royal British Legion, passed away on May 1 at Antrim Area Hospital.
Born in 1938 in Belfast, he joined the Army as a teenager, serving with the Royal Ulster Rifles for nine years.
“Alan served in Germany and Cyprus, and he was also in the band where he played the clarinet,” said Carrickfergus RBL chaplain, Pastor Sam Grant.
Mr Hamilton was involved with the local RBL branch for many years, taking on the role of chairman in 2006.
He played a key role in the Legion’s Poppy Appeal at local level, and was a familiar face at the annual Veterans’ Day parade in the town.
In 2014, as chairman of Carrick RBL, he was instrumental in bringing the ‘Little Ships’ relay commemorating the D-Day landings to Carrickfergus.
“He was very proud of Armed Forces Day and particularly when the Red Arrows came to Carrick,” added Pastor Grant.
Christchurch was at capacity during the service on Friday afternoon, with MEA Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe, and many of Mr Hamilton’s former colleagues from the Royal Ulster Rifles in attendance.
Standard bearers from the Ulster Rifles, the Whitehead and Carrickfergus branches of the Royal British Legion, and the Carrickfergus Ulster Defence Regiment Association paid their respects with a guard of honour.
A Union flag, brought by the Sea Cadets from TS Warrior, was laid over Mr Hamilton’s coffin.
“It was a very sad occasion, but a tremendous send-off for Alan,” said Stephen Weir, standard bearer for Carrick RBL. “Alan’s daughter, Lynda spoke on behalf of her dad, and his grandson, Alan Jr read out the Ode to the Fallen at the service.”
A piper from the Royal Irish Regiment accompanied the funeral cortege to Roselawn Cemetery.
Paying tribute to RBL members Robert Mogey, Joe Carmichael, and Eddie McKnight along with the entire Carrickfergus branch of the Legion, Mr Weir said: “They really stepped up in helping to get all the funeral arrangements together.”
The Legion is also hoping to fulfil Mr Hamilton’s wishes by proceeding with plans for a remembrance parade to the cenotaph in the town on July 1, he added.