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Tributes are paid to manager of 'TV star' Castle Crom

By Rebecca Black

Published 29/02/2016

Noel with Paloma Faith
Noel with Paloma Faith
Noel with Timothy Spall
Noel and one of his sons with comic actor David Walliams

The manager of a castle hailed as one of the most beautiful venues in the province and where hundreds of weddings are held has been described as "a true gent".

Fermanagh man Noel Johnston, who died suddenly on Friday morning, was the steward of Crom Castle's west wing and a star of Keeping The Castle, a BBC documentary about the landmark building in 2013.

He saw the fairy tale venue reach national prominence as celebrities - including singer Paloma Faith and comedian David Walliams - filmed the comedy series Blandings there.

Mr Johnston's death came just weeks after castle owner, the 6th Earl of Erne, passed away in December.

First Minister Arlene Foster was one of the first to post a tribute on Facebook.

"Words cannot express how sorry I am with the news of Noel Johnston's death," she posted alongside a photograph of the pair of them dancing on the lawn of the castle.

"The last time I was chatting to him was at the Orange awards in Enniskillen a couple of weeks ago and he was in good form; but today he has left this mortal life."

Recalling how she and Noel had danced at Crom for a journalist's video about happiness in Fermanagh, she added: "We had great fun.

"Today is a different day.

"To his mum, wife, boys and sisters I say be very proud of someone who was a good man."

BBC journalist Julian Fowler described him as "a lovely man".

And Lisbellaw United Football Club described Noel as "a true gent".

"All at the club are deeply saddened at the passing of Noel Johnston, a true gent," the club posted on Twitter.

"Our thoughts are with all the Johnston family."

The Lisbellaw branch of the Young Farmers Club also expressed sympathy. "On behalf of the club we would all like to pass on our sincere sympathy and condolences to three esteemed members of our club Ashley, Jamie Johnston and Luke Johnston on the passing of their father Noel yesterday.

"Thoughts and prayers to Amanda, the boys and the entire family circle xx."

The Carriage Rooms, a privately owned country estate in Co Down, also paid tribute.

"So very sad to hear of the passing of Noel Johnston. Noel was a great friend of Montalto and did absolutely tremendous work at Crom Castle," it posted on its Facebook page.

In 2013 the BBC One Northern Ireland documentary told the story of what Viscount John Crichton and his late father were doing to ensure the survival of Crom, with the viscount in particular raising the commercial profile of the west wing of the property.

After Sunday night BBC TV costume drama Blandings - starring Jennifer Saunders, Timothy Spall and Walliams - was filmed there, the viscount described Noel as his "right-hand man".

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