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Tributes paid to singing chimney sweep after roof death

By Lesley Houston

Published 01/10/2015

Character: Eugene Campbell
Character: Eugene Campbell

A singing chimney sweep has died after falling from a roof in Dungannon.

Eugene Campbell, described as one of "life's gentlemen", died after locals said he fell while checking a householder's chimney in the Bush area on Monday.

Mourners gathered at the Donaghmore man's home last night ahead of his funeral on tomorrow.

Friends and relatives joined his widow, Marion, and four grown-up children for a wake in memory of a much-loved local personality.

The funeral Mass for Mr Campbell, a grandfather-of-four, will be held at St John the Baptist Church in Galbally on tomorrow morning.

He will be laid to rest afterwards in St Patrick's Cemetery, Donaghmore.

The Health and Safety Executive has confirmed it is investigating the incident.

Mr Campbell, who was in his late 50s, was originally from Clogher but had lived in Donaghmore for many years.

As a singer, he was hailed by many people who also enjoyed his talents as a guitarist.

And as a chimney sweep, friends said he regularly had a six-week waiting list and was the only sweep in the area thought to shun modern methods in favour of traditional brushes.

Known affectionately to many as "Sooty the Singing Sweep", he could be heard humming a tune as he worked in homes around Dungannon.

Carol Doey, from Cookstown community centre The Hub, where Mr Campbell often performed, described him "as one of life's gentlemen".

"He was lovely. He had no faults."

She added: "He idolised his children and he was very down to earth."

She also told how being a chimney sweep came second to Mr Campbell's first love of playing music and singing.

"No matter whose chimney he cleaned, you could hear him singing down it," she said.

"We are totally gutted and everybody loved him."

Another man, who asked not to be named, said: "He didn't just do the interior of the chimney - he'd be up on the roof making sure everything was working with the chimney."

The man said that is what Mr Campbell was believed to have been doing when he fell.

"Everyone wanted him year in, year out," he added. "When you called him, he always had a six-week waiting list, but if he was free, he'd come at 11 o'clock at night to sweep your chimney.

"He was always singing, and we called him 'Sooty the Singing Sweep' because he would arrive covered in soot, of course, and you would always hear him singing at his work. He was a character in many ways."

Ulster Unionist MLA Neil Somerville said that Mr Campbell's death was a "sad loss to the local community".

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative added: "He was also an accomplished musician and did much work for local charities. And to his wife Marion and family circle, we extend our heartfelt sympathies at this tragic time."

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