Tributes to 999 services as pensioner Geoffrey Cartwright laid to rest
The death of a pensioner who was struck by a car in a seaside town has left a community in shock and grief, mourners at his funeral heard yesterday.
Geoffrey (Geoff) Cartwright (78) was knocked down just yards from his home in Newcastle, Co Down, on Thursday night.
An 18-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of driving whilst unfit and causing death by dangerous driving. He was later released on bail.
At the funeral Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Newcastle yesterday, Fr Colin Crossey expressed sympathy on behalf of the community.
He told Mr Cartwright's family: "He was beloved to you and held in such high esteem in the community.
"There is a sense of shock for the family and the community in that he was with you one moment and gone so suddenly in the next moment."
The pensioner had just left Macken's pub in the town, where he had been playing pool with his brother Reggie, who had come on a month-long visit to Northern Ireland, when he was struck by a vehicle.
Customers in another nearby bar witnessed the collision but could only watch in shock as paramedics and members of the local Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) attempted to save the victim's life.
During the Mass, Fr Crossey conveyed the thanks and gratitude of the Cartwright family to the RNLI, the PSNI, Ambulance Service and the medical staff of the Royal Victoria Hospital who treated Mr Cartwright.
"They were the ones who reassured Geoff," he added.
"In reality, they were the face of Christ in Geoff's last moments. This is why we should live every day as if it were our last, because it is only our faith that makes sense to us when we die."
Mr Cartwright's wife Rosaleen, who was from the area, passed away three years ago.
It was revealed that he had been to Our Lady of the Assumption Church just last week to book her anniversary Mass.
The couple had six children, 10 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
"Part of Geoff died when Rosaleen died," Fr Crossey added.
"He loved nothing more than to go out on his boat he kept in the harbour where he could go and be alone with himself and his thoughts."
Mr Cartwright was born in England and joined the Army at just 18.
He met his future wife whilst serving in Northern Ireland.
On the day he was due to be married in the extremely harsh winter of 1963, his wedding car could not make it through the snow. Undeterred, Geoff flagged a taxi down to get him to church.
A master bricklayer by trade, he later put himself through college and ended up teaching the art in the former Newry Technical College.
Mourners at his funeral Mass also heard Fr Crossey recall the words of a local woman this week who said Mr Cartwright was a true "Christian gentleman who held the door of the church open for me every morning".
Fr Crossey added: "Geoff converted to Catholicism when he met his wife and he was true to his faith.
"He was a daily communicant who was nourished by the Eucharist. He had influence on others. May he now be granted the crown of glory he deserves," he said.
Following Mass, Mr Cartwright's remains were interred in the cemetery of St Patrick's Church at Bryansford.