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Hundreds gather to pay last respects to Dickie Best

By Lesley Anne Henry

Hundred of mourners today joined with the family of football legend George Best to pay their respect to his much-loved father, Dickie.

Quiet, dignified and with little fuss Mr Best's final journey was a real reflection of his life.

Family was first and foremost to Dickie and it was they and only very close friends who gathered at his Burren Way home for the private funeral service.

The proceedings were in stark contrast to his famous footballing son's funeral which thousands of people flocked to from across the world.

Among the first to arrive was his youngest daughter Barbara and her husband Norman McNarry with whom he had set up the George Best Foundation.

Sports commentator Jackie Fullerton was also among the mourners who called at the house to say a personal goodbye.

Dickie Best had lived in the Cregagh estate for most of his life and his neighbours in the close-knit east Belfast community stood in their front gardens to watch him leave the area for the last time.

Neighbour Robert Ferguson said: "I've known him this past 22 years.

"He kept himself to himself but always had a word for his neighbours.

Mr Best, (88), died on Wednesday at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, surrounded by his family.

He had been admitted four weeks ago with a suspected adverse reaction to prescription medicine, but his condition worsened last week and he lost the battle for life.

Throughout it all the close-knit Best family maintained a bedside vigil.

Following the short family service the funeral cortege travelled to the nearby Salvation Army Temple, on the Cregagh Road, for a more public farewell.

At the service Mr Best was remembered as the "Peter Pan of the Cregagh estate".

Family friend and chief executive of George Best Belfast City Airport Brian Ambrose led the tributes by reading out a statement from Dickie's five surviving children - Carol, Barbara, Grace, Gilly-Anne and Ian - who had been left "reeling" by their loss.

Entitled simply "Our Dad" Dickie Best was described as "the Peter Pan of the Cregagh estate", a man who was "open and honest, of great integrity and who was highly regarded by so many."

The family said they were "honoured" to have had their father around for so long.

"He was a straight man who spoke his mind believed in saying his piece and tackled any problem head on," they said.

Dickie Best will be sorely missed but remembered fondly and mourners were told that his relatives were "comforted by the knowledge that he is now at peace".

Mr Best died on Wednesday at the Ulster Hospital, Dundonald, surrounded by his family.

He had been admitted four weeks ago.

Speaking ahead of the funeral service Mr Best's son-in-law Norman McNarry said the family were "coping as well as could be expected with their loss".

"Everyone is bearing up very, very well under the circumstances".

Dickie Best was buried alongside his beloved wife, Annie, and legendary son, George, at Roselawn cemetery on the outskirts of Belfast.

There was a minute's applause in tribute to Dickie at the Oval last night ahead of Glentoran's Carnegie Premier League game with Cliftonville.

Belfast Telegraph

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