Norwegian ex-students in emotional meeting with daughter of an old Belfast pal
A group of former Queen’s University students from Norway who returned to Belfast for a nostalgic visit have tracked down the daughter of one of their favourite characters from the old days.
The 40 Scandinavians revealed earlier this month that they were hoping to find a Salvation Army member who flew in copies of the organisation’s War Cry newspaper from Oslo every week for them as they drank in a Lisburn Road pub.
A picture of David Campbell with the students in the early 1970s was published in the Belfast Telegraph, and Mr Campbell’s daughter Pat Boyd got in touch to say that her father had passed away not long after the photograph was taken.
But she said she was keen to see the visitors. And within 24 hours she and her husband Hammie — both Salvation Army members — had an emotional meeting with them during a trip to Stormont.
She said “I was produced like a rabbit out of a hat by one of the organisers and it was a big surprise for the Norwegians, who couldn’t believe that they were getting to meet their old friend’s daughter.
“I told them that my father had sadly passed away a few years after they returned to Norway. He died from a massive heart attack in 1974, aged just 52.
“The Norwegians told me how much they liked my father. He used to come into their pub, the old Four In Hand on the Lisburn Road, to sell the War Cry.
“They mentioned to him that they would much prefer to read the Norwegian edition of the paper and they were amazed when my Dad arrived the next week with copies he’d had sent over from Oslo.”
It’s emerged that Mr Campbell was injured in an IRA bomb attack on the Salvation Army’s citadel on the Dublin Road in December 1971. He owned a carpet shop next door and after a bomb exploded he risked his life to rush into the citadel to recover Salvation Army property. However, a wall collapsed on top of him and he sustained extensive injuries. A woman died in the blast.
The blaze that followed the explosion was described as one of the biggest in Belfast since the Blitz and it took more than three hours for 70 firefighters to bring the flames under control.
Pat told the visitors that, by coincidence, she had been a regular visitor to Norway. Her daughter lived there for many years and her first grandchild was born there.
One of the Norwegian visitors, Knut Alten, said he and his colleagues were delighted to find Mr Campbell’s daughter.
“It was a very moving experience for us all to meet up with Pat and reminisce about her father, who was a really lovely man” he added.
The story of the meeting has been picked up by the Salvation Army, which wants to include an article about it in the War Cry, which is no longer sold in pubs but distributed through other channels.
The Norwegians, many of whom were back in Belfast for the first time since graduating from Queen’s, toured the province — and their old watering holes in south Belfast — before attending a dinner in the Great Hall of the university.