Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Obituary - Tommy Fisher

Founder of Fisher Engineering dies

TOMMY Fisher, father of rally star Bertie Fisher who was killed in a helicopter crash earlier this year, has died after a lengthy illness.

TOMMY Fisher, father of rally star Bertie Fisher who was killed in a helicopter crash earlier this year, has died after a lengthy illness.

Chairman of Fisher Engineering, the Ballinamallard company he founded in a hut 51 years ago, Mr Fisher passed away, aged 79, in a Belfast hospital last night.

The eldest of eight children from a farming family in Newtowngore, County Leitrim, he joined the RAF early in the Second World War and was 20 when he was taken prisoner in 1942 following the fall of Singapore.

As a POW he worked loading and unloading railway trucks and on jungle clearance for what is now Changi International airport, before he was moved to Japan to work in copper mines near Nagasaki.

After he was freed, he was posted to Castle Archdale in Fermanagh for the final two years of service where he married Elsie Richardson.

He set up a business fixing farm machinery, working from a second hand shed he bought at auction in Enniskillen.

He would later recall: "At that time the big change over was coming in agriculture - the horses were going out and the tractors were coming in. There was a massive amount of work converting the machinery for the tractors.

"It kept the business going for a year until I built the first manufactured item - a potato planter, one of which has been in use every year since."

From such humble origins grew Fisher Engineering, now one of the most successful steel construction companies in the British Isles.

He played a significant role in all aspects of life in the village and was a founder member of the Ballinamallard development association. He was awarded the MBE in 1994 for Services to Education and Training in recognition of his work with the Erne Youth and Community Workshop, later Erne Training Services, of which he was again a founder member and chairman for 12 years.

He was also president of Ballinamallard United Football Club whose ground, Fisher Park, reflects the support he gave the club.

His death comes seven months almost to the day since Bertie Fisher, managing director of the company and Ireland's record-breaking rally driver, died along with his son Mark and daughter Emma in a helicopter crash.

Nothing gave him greater pleasure than to support Bertie on rallies around the country and he would always be there to join in the celebrations.

Tommy is survived by his wife Elsie and sons Ernie, Kenny and Ivan.

He will be buried at Ballinamallard tomorrow after a 2pm service in Magheracross Parish Church.

Sammy Hamill

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