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Funeral tributes for man killed in Christmas Eve farming accident

By Joanne Fleming

Published 31/12/2015

The funeral of a 68-year-old man tragically killed in a farm accident on Christmas Eve has taken place
The funeral of a 68-year-old man tragically killed in a farm accident on Christmas Eve has taken place

The funeral of a 68-year-old man tragically killed in a farm accident on Christmas Eve has taken place.

Gordon Sterritt lost his life at the family farm at Mountjoy near Omagh on Thursday morning in an accident involving farm machinery.

Mr Sterritt, who was deaf but played an active role on the farm, lived with his brother Robin and his family at the Castletown Road.

Around 600 people packed Mountjoy Presbyterian Church yesterday afternoon for the service conducted by the Rev Jonathan Cowan.

A sign language interpreter translated the service for many of Mr Sterritt's friends from the deaf community who attended.

Addressing mourners, Mr Cowan spoke about Mr Sterritt's love of family, farming and his strong Christian faith.

Describing him as a hard-working, well-travelled man, he said: "The sympathies of the entire community are with the Sterritt family on the tragic death of Gordon.

"Gordon attended the Ulster School for the Deaf as a child before returning to work on the family farm.

"Gordon loved to help out on the family farm and enjoyed being out in the countryside.

"He enjoyed many holidays and had travelled to America, Egypt, Israel and Austria with the Christian Deaf Fellowship.

"Gordon was taught the Christian faith at home by his parents. He had a living faith and trust in Christ Jesus, whose birth we have just celebrated.

"His faith was nurtured by daily bible reading and prayer. He also attended church services for the deaf in Belfast.

"It is a comfort for the family to know that Gordon is now in heaven because of his personal trust in Christ Jesus."

In an earlier tribute, Mr Sterritt's brother Robin thanked the community for their support over recent days and said it had been an "unavoidable accident".

"The family really appreciate the support of the community during this difficult time," he said.

"The young man driving the machine is very upset, but we want to make it clear that there is no blame attached to anyone. It was an unavoidable accident."

Describing his brother as a man who "lived life to the full", he told the Tyrone Constitution: "Gordon was very much an outdoor person, his life was on the farm. Despite his disabilities, Gordon loved helping out on the farm where he played an important role.

"He loved the outdoors and the countryside.

"On a Sunday afternoon he would go up to Mullaghcarn where he would walk to the top of the mountain.

"He was very independent and he had bought a new car just some weeks ago which he was very proud of."

Local farmer and mid-Tyrone councillor Bert Wilson said his thoughts were with the family.

"Mr Sterritt was really interested in farming and the work that went on," he said.

"It is a sad time for the Sterritt family and the driver of the machinery.

"My sympathy goes out to everyone."

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