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Richard Hurst on his special relationships

The 56-year-old is the visitor services manager for the Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh. He is married to Ann and they have four children, Martha (24), Kate (20) and twins Ruby and Michael (16).

My wife, Ann

I met Ann when I came to Rossnowlagh from Edinburgh for a summer job working in a hotel - she was working there, too.

We were both teenagers at the time but we kept the relationship going. It was through Ann that I did a weaving course in Cork and we both became handweavers working on looms.

I started working for the Ulster American Folk Park when they were searching for local craft artists and I've been here now for 30 years.

My children

Martha is currently in Australia and Kate is at college at the moment. Ruby and Michael are flat out as they work as lifeguards on the Co Donegal coast, as well as attending school.

My only regrets as far as the children are concerned is how fast their early years seemed to go by. The best thing is seeing them all going into adulthood now and how they're turning out. I will admit I was sad when Martha headed off to Australia and her visa has just been extended so she's away for at least another year. Of course, there's all sorts of great technology around to keep you in touch, but it doesn't take away from the fact that you miss them.

My best friend

Tony McKenna and I went to school together in Scotland. He's still there and it was recently his birthday, so I upheld the tradition of putting embarrassing photographs of him when he was younger up on Facebook.

Tony's dad was originally from Belfast so his family often come over to Northern Ireland to visit. He's the kind of friend you might not see from one year to the next, but when I do see him it's like the last time was yesterday.

My parents

My mother Margaret raised her family and worked part-time in a print factory and my dad Kenny was a coal miner - we were raised in a small village called Newtowngrange outside Edinburgh.

I'm the eldest of three brothers, there are also George and Joseph, and they're both in Scotland. Both of my parents have been very supportive of the path I've chosen - I think they saw where my relationship with Ann was going.

In saying that, they were a little concerned at me moving to Northern Ireland in the mid-Eighties, but they know now it's a wonderful place to live. They come to visit here as often as they can.

My mentor

The person I got advice from in my formative years was my old Spanish teacher, Phillip DiCiacca.

He inspired young people to follow the path they wanted to instead of the path they felt they should follow. We're still in touch and I meet him sometimes when I go to Scotland.

Person I go to for advice

That has to be Ann. If I get too far ahead of myself then she's always there to bring me back - but in a nice way. She's a very solid person and is the first one I would go to for guidance.

My celebrity crush

The family were discussing this the other day - I've always liked Maura Tierney. She played Abby in ER and also recently appeared in The Affair on Sky. I think she has lovely eyes.

Fantasy dinner party

My first guest would be Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fame, as I have been a fan of his music for years. He would have to bring his guitar along to dinner.

Then there would be Bill Monroe, known as the Father of Bluegrass music. He would sing Blue Moon of Kentucky for us and play the mandolin, too.

I'd ask the wonderful actor Paul Scofield, as he had a wonderful voice.

Finally, I'd ask Dame Mary Peters, I still remember watching her gold medal win in 1972 on television and how it inspired me.

Belfast Telegraph


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