Belfast Telegraph

In 67 years of marriage they were rarely apart: Son's tribute to couple caught up in Portadown tragedy

Victor Pickering and his wife Betty
Victor Pickering and his wife Betty
Friends attend a thanksgiving service in Victor Pickering's memory in Portadown yesterday
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A service of thanksgiving for the life of tragic Portadown pensioner Victor Pickering was held in his home town yesterday.

Addressing more than 200 mourners, his son Paul said his parents had been virtually inseparable during almost seven decades together.

"In 67 years of marriage they were rarely apart," he said. "They were totally devoted to each other."

Mr Pickering (84) was found unconscious at his home in Levaghery Close in the town last Wednesday.

His wife Betty, who is also in her 80s, was taken to hospital for treatment.

It is believed that a friend of Mr Pickering had phoned him a number of times on Wednesday, but when he failed to reach him, he then made his way to the house.

He is understood to have called the emergency services after peering through the letterbox and smelling gas.

"It can only be a few weeks that they spent apart in all their life together, from their early life together in Finaghy to their happy years in Portadown," Paul, who now lives overseas, told the congregation.

"They were a couple completely dedicated to each other and unwavering in their support for me through all the years.

"I will miss my dad deeply and it's difficult to express the loss.

"I have to be content with my memories and the knowledge of a love shared across the decades.

"My dad enjoyed a life well lived and has a better home awaiting now. I just pray that my wife Kate and I have as long and as happy a life together as my parents shared."

Mr Pickering had been buried at a private ceremony ahead of the service, and minister at Portadown First Presbyterian Church, Rev Robin Brown, told mourners how he and Mr Pickering had a shared a love of engineering.

"We were both trained engineers," he said. "And Victor spent much of his life designing and developing a nuclear bunker.

"He was a man who also knew and loved Jesus Christ and will now be safe in a stronghold of his own."

Mr Pickering was an honorary life member and former secretary of 1st Portadown BB Old Boys' Association.

"I also remember him for his lifelong association with the Boys Brigade and won't forget that on his golden wedding anniversary, he and Betty refused to accept any gifts and instead asked for donations to our church work in Nepal.

"Victor was a much loved and highly respected member of First Portadown Presbyterian Church.

"He and Betty were regularly at morning and evening worship and midweek meetings until age and infirmity restricted their mobility.

"I was last visiting in their home in March and they were with us at an evening service around two months ago.

"It was a great shock and a cause of much sadness to learn of Victor's death."

All donations at the service were collected in aid of Air Ambulance NI which had attended the scene of the tragedy last Wednesday.

No official cause of death has been released by the PSNI, who say they are still investigating the circumstances of the incident.

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