Belfast Telegraph

Armagh woman Thelma Gorman, killed by cow, devoted life to others, funeral told

By Allan Preston

Mourners at the funeral of well-known Co Armagh cattle breeder Thelma Gorman, who died in a farm accident involving a cow last Friday, heard how she had devoted her life to her family, farming and helping others.

Rev David McMillan led the funeral service yesterday at Armagh Free Presbyterian Church, telling mourners that Mrs Gorman (67) "lived life to the full" and had been just days away from celebrating her 46th wedding anniversary with the "love of her life" Peter.

The devoted couple had planned to celebrate the date by going on a cruise together.

Mrs Gorman's working life was busy as she was a nurse by profession, while maintaining a lifelong devotion to cattle farming.

Her nursing career took her across Northern Ireland, including to Campbell College in Belfast, where she served as Matron of Boarders.

Rev McMillan told mourners that during the Troubles she had also fought to save the life of her uncle Joe Reid, a lance corporal in the UDR, who was shot on his doorstep by the IRA on August 31, 1975.

"Thelma was the first on the scene, administering first aid and the kiss of life, but tragically Joe died in Thelma's arms that day, something she never forgot," he said.

Turning to her farming life, he added: She was brought up on the farm on the Kilcreevy Road and she farmed all her life, and she died on the farm doing what she loved the most."

The mourners were told that Mrs Gorman became widely respected across all of Ireland for her dedication to agricultural life.

"Around the age of 30, she bought her first Simmental cow and would later have the distinction of being the only woman to be chairperson of the Simmental Breeders Association of Northern Ireland in 1997 and again in 2007," Rev McMillan explained.

"Thelma especially loved the summer, when all the agricultural shows came around. If you see the pictures of her leading the Simmentals by the halter, there's a huge smile on her face."

He said the Armagh County Agricultural Show remained closest to her heart. "For many she was a driving force behind the show ... and of course there is nothing like showing and winning on home ground - which she often did," Rev McMillan said.

A respected cattle judge in the north and south of Ireland, she was named Farming Life's unsung hero of 2016. Although Mrs Gordon did not have children, the mourners were told she was considered a "mother to many" - especially her nieces and nephews. With her husband she devoted 20 years to caring for children with learning disabilities, receiving a volunteer of the year award in 2012.

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