'He was my hero' - tributes to well-respected Northern Ireland businessman Norman Lynas
Prominent businessman Norman Lynas has been remembered as a "risk taker" as his son paid tribute to his "hero" at a thanksgiving service for his life.
The service for the 77-year-old was held in Portstewart Baptist Church on Wednesday and was attended by hundreds of people.
Mr Lynas, who had been honoured by Buckingham Palace with an OBE in 2017 for services to business, will be perhaps best remembered as the founder of Lynas Frozen Foods, later Lynas Foodservice.
The business, now in its third generation, is the largest independent frozen, chilled and ambient foodservice company in Ireland and employs 550 staff.
Mr Lynas, who passed away on November 23 following a short illness, was a man of deep faith who, along with his wife Lynda, was an active member of Portstewart Baptist Church.
The couple set up Exodus, a charity helping, to date, around 10,000 young people across 35 countries to become Christians.
The congregation were led by Mr Lynas' wife Lynda, his sons Peter, David and Andrew and wider family circle including his two sisters, daughters-in-law and grandchildren.
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Andrew said: "When it came to business dad was a risk taker and whilst dad built an incredible business with amazing people, it's that risk taken and growth-orientated spirit I will cherish the most.
"When fire wrecked the business on New Year's Eve in the '70s he started building the next day with no planning permission.
"From saying "yes" to a young Michael Herbert and this new chain called KFC 35 years ago, to walking the legs off us at the trade shows, in work he had an indomitable spirit and energy.
"That spirit remained to the end as he almost demanded to go to our Cookstown food outlet only three weeks ago.
"Dad took risks, especially with people, and perhaps I was his greatest risk. Eleven years ago, as a 27-year-old, he said 'ok, you are ready to take over?'
"He trusted me, was with me on the journey of letting me risk again and again.
"I loved the risk but I loved that he put relationships first, both on a human level and in his love for Jesus.
"There is a reason we have many incredible staff who have been with us 20, 30 and even 40 years - because dad invested time and showed he cared."
The congregation heard how Mr Lynas' faith manifested itself in support for the local community and how his actions impacted on his family.
Andrew continued: "Dad was part of a phenomenal double act - Norman and Lynda, never really one without the other and Exodus is mum and dad's greatest legacy.
"Dad was a father beyond us, he loved his boys and we are part of his legacy, yet he has so many sons and daughters as he truly understood.
"In later years dad definitely became more forgiving and compassionate and he always had a soft spot for 'a lovable rogue'.
"Whatever walk of life people came from, dad asked how can we show grace and mercy?
"It wasn't that he wouldn't call stuff out but the person was more important and that has had a profound impact on many, including me.
"That heart to forgive came from his love of Jesus. Jesus was and remained his first love.
"In his last months I became his de facto personal assistant due to all the people who wanted to see him and he loved it.
"Dad, you are my hero, I will miss you but you are with Jesus in glory. Thank you for leaving such a special legacy for the impartation of wisdom you have left us with."
Andrew spoke of how the family have been supported by so many during his father's short illness, including the Portstewart Baptist Church and the medical team that cared for his father in the hospital and at home.