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DUP's Edwin Poots opens his heart over ‘very hard’ death of beloved father

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Edwin Poots with dad Charles, who passed away last week

Edwin Poots with dad Charles, who passed away last week

Edwin Poots with dad Charles, who passed away last week

Edwin Poots has revealed how he struggled to deal with his profound grief following the death of his 90-year-old father last week.

Charles Poots was one of the founder members of the DUP, but his son received condolences from across the political spectrum.

The Agriculture Minister told the Belfast Telegraph he would miss his beloved dad's friendship, company and advice.

"I saw him virtually every day in life. You just don't anticipate him not being there and it comes as a bit of a shock to the system whenever it happens," he said.

Mr Poots, who lost his 64-year-old mum Ethel when he was 30, said he believed he would have been more prepared for his father's death.

"You think you are sort of prepared mentally, but it transpires that you're not," he added.

"I found it very difficult to deal with my mother's death because we had a very close relationship and it was a real wrench," he said.

"I thought with dad, because his whole body was worn out and he was ready to go, that it wouldn't be as difficult, but it was very difficult.

"When someone is in your life for 54 years, it's very hard. Dad reared me, we worked together and he was at our house virtually every night for his dinner, particularly after my mum died."

Mr Poots was in recent years helping his ailing father to bed three nights a week. He has found it "strange not having to do that" since his death.

"It's hard that we don't have his company or his friendship any more. His direction and advice are all gone. It's harder to hold a family together when you lose both parents," he said.

Mr Poots, who lived in the family farmhouse close to his dad's bungalow, added: "I just miss his presence. He's not at home anymore."

The late Mr Poots had been receiving treatment at the Ulster Hospital after falling at home earlier this month.

His death last Thursday morning came just a day after the death of Jim Donaldson, the father of DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

Mr Poots recalled how his father, who was being cared for in a non-Covid ward, had been doing well in terms of recovery but then took a turn for the worse.

It brought him some comfort to be able to say goodbye in person.

"We got to be with him in his final hours, which was very important," he said.

"It made me all the more acutely aware of what people who are losing loved ones with Covid are going through. (They) haven't the opportunity to properly express their goodbyes.

"They can't hold their hand and kiss their forehead and do all those things that you would normally do when you're losing a loved one - and that's extremely sad."

The Lagan Valley MLA said a funeral service was held at home last Saturday.

"Four of my dad's grandchildren were overseas and my son, Samuel, who's a missionary in Brazil, led the ceremony online, which was at 7.15am for him," Mr Poots said.

"Another nephew was in Australia and it was at 8.15pm for him.

"There were others in South Africa who were all able to attend the funeral too in that way. That was a very precious time."

"Our minister was there, but it was almost exclusively family who participated in the service. My son reflected on various stories about Dad and that made it very intimate, very personal and very special."

Praising his father for being a "very determined and resilient man", Mr Poots said he "implanted that same determination and resilience" in his children.

"Whenever something was difficult or tough, he wasn't the type of person who would give up or who would let you give up," he said.

"I remember one day being out on the farm and we were driving in posts.

"It was on the side of a hill and the wind was blowing and the rain was coming down sideways.

"I complained about the weather in the hope that we would just pack up the tools and go home.

"And he said, 'You're neither sugar nor salt, son. You'll not melt. Get on with it'. "

Mr Poots added: "It was tough love and it was all about staying the course when the going gets tough."

The former Health Minister said he had been touched by the kind words he had received from across Northern Ireland.

Mr Poots also stressed that he believed there were areas of life in which people could go beyond politics.

Belfast Telegraph