Belfast Telegraph

Final tribute to tragic firefighter Nial Hamilton who died after tackling blaze

Guard of honour as hundreds mourn dad-of-two who collapsed at blaze

By Rebecca Black

An Enniskillen man described by his sister as "loved by everyone who knew him" has been buried following a funeral with full Fire Service honours.

Firefighters from the Republic and Britain travelled to Co Fermanagh yesterday for the funeral of their colleague Nial Hamilton (44) who died on Tuesday night after collapsing in Lurgan.

He had been attending a car fire in the Kilwilkie estate.

After helping to extinguish the blaze, Mr Hamilton lost consciousness. His colleagues could not revive him.

The father-of-two's remains were accompanied from his home by two fire appliances before a guard of honour made up of his former colleagues brought his coffin into St Michael's Church in Trory.

His wife Ruth tearfully clutched the hands of the couple's two young sons Alex (6) and Rory (4), flanked by the rest of the family, as she entered the church.

Around 400 mourners turned out to support the family, their numbers spilling out of the doors.

Southern Area Commander in the Fire Service, John Denvir, paid a touching tribute to Nial, while crew commander Liam Hanna read out the Fireman's Prayer during the service, which was conducted by the Rev Mark Watson.

Rev Watson thanked the firefighters who fought to save Nial's life on Ruth's behalf. He described Nial as "a loving husband and father, son and brother".

Nial (right) is survived by his wife, two sons, parents Eric and Vera, and his three sisters, Pamela, Jenny and Avril.

Speaking before the funeral, Eric (69) said his son's death had been hard for the family to come to terms with. "The whole family is in complete shock," he said. "When you look at the two grandsons aged six and four that they no longer have a daddy, it really hits home.

"Ruth is very upset and the two boys are at the age where it really doesn't sink in.

"She tried to explain to Alex the oldest boy that daddy had gone to Heaven and that he wouldn't be coming back, but 10 minutes later he said: 'Daddy is not home from work yet, where is he?'"

Eric said he had been touched by how many friends and colleagues of his son had visited to pay their respects.

"It has hit home to me over these last two days how popular Nial was with his mates," he said.

"Every father would like to think that, but this is genuine where big strong firefighters have been coming to me. One really genuinely broke down and said to me: 'You should be very proud of your son'."

Nial's sister Averil described her brother as "very easy going, a family man, and everybody who knew him loved him".

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