A father of five and senior figure in the Free Presbyterian Church has died in a car crash in England.
The deceased was named locally last night as Rev Robert Ormerod — who had been been minister of Cloughmills Free Presbyterian Church in Co Antrim for more than two decades.
Mr Ormerod was travelling with three of his sisters to visit their ill brother when the car they were in was involved in a collision on the M6 in Warwickshire.
The victim’s sisters had been discharged from hospital last night. It is understood the party had been visiting Mr Ormerod’s son, who lives in England, before leaving to see their brother.
Rev Alan Smiley, Deputy Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church, said the deceased’s family are devastated by the tragedy.
He said he had visited them to offer his condolences and support.
The senior cleric said: “We were with the family tonight.
“The car they were travelling in crashed, but they do not know the exact details.
“They are obviously shocked and just devastated,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
Mr Ormerod, who was believed to be in his late 50s, had five children with his wife Julie.
The couple both hailed from Belfast — Mr Ormerod from the city’s Shankill Road area and his wife from the east of the city.
Mr Ormerod had been rising through the ranks of the Free Presbyterian Church, which was established by former DUP leader Ian Paisley.
He had recently been appointed as the Church’s Convenor of Government and Morals, and was described as a senior figure within the Church. “Robert was a great man — a great character,” Rev Smiley said last night.
“He came from a working-class background in Belfast.
“He had been the minister at
Cloughmills (Free Presbyterian Church) for more than 25 years and he would have trained for the ministry before that.”
He added: “We have just heard this afternoon.
“We are all devastated.”