Belfast Telegraph

Cambridge House music teacher Lee Mathewson dies aged 51

By Angela Rainey

Tributes have been paid following the sudden death of a well-known Co Antrim teacher and musician.

Lee Mathewson (51), who was head of music at Cambridge House Grammar School in Ballymena, died on Tuesday at his home in the town.

He is survived by his daughter Eve (18) and son James (16).

Mr Mathewson was a popular and talented teacher who could play everything from the flute to drums. His passion for music was sparked as a youngster when he trained as a classical clarinettist and his skill saw him travel around Europe with different youth orchestras.

He was well-known due to having played in marching bands, such as the Sir George White Memorial Flute Band (SGWMFB) in Broughshane, for 30 years, and the Ballymena Young Conquerors Flute Band. He was also a member of the Orange Order.

SGWMFB secretary Rab Glenholmes, who was Mr Mathewson's friend for over 20 years, said: "He was a colourful character who could play music and also arrange, he was particularly good with woodwind.

"Whenever he took the Christmas concert he would always make it fun.

"If the band was playing a James Bond theme he would be there dressed as 007.

"He was always telling jokes, he was very funny and popular.

"Everyone knew him, if you mentioned his name around town, people knew who he was as he was well liked."

Mr Glenholmes recalled how Mr Mathewson took his passion for marching bands into the classroom, teaching his students to such a high standard that they won multiple awards.

"Whenever he became a music teacher he entered his class of 16-year-olds into the 'All Ireland Competition' where they competed against established bands like ours - and they won," he said.

"He loved bands - playing, arranging and the camaraderie of it too."

Over the past few years Mr Mathewson suffered bouts of ill-health that often meant he was hospitalised.

His last public performance with the Sir George White band was at the Ulster Hall in 2014.

"He will also be missed for his guidance as so many young people in the area passed through his classes," Mr Glenholmes added.

"Lee was a musical genius and an inspiration who will be sorely missed by the band."

Cambridge House head teacher Elma Lutton said: "We are saddened to learn of the death of Lee Mathewson.

"Many of us have warm, fond memories of his wonderful wit and tremendous talent. Our thoughts are with his family during this sad time."

Mr Mathewson's funeral will be held on September 11 at James Henry Funeral Parlour, Broughshane Street, Ballymena at 11am.

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