Belfast Telegraph

Tributes to principal Tom Noble who blazed a trail for integrated education

Respected: Tom Noble
Respected: Tom Noble
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Tributes have been paid to a retired Co Fermanagh school principal who died suddenly at the weekend and is being remembered as "an excellent coach, mentor and friend".

Tom Noble (68) passed away on Saturday morning while he was preparing for training with Enniskillen Royal Boat Club, where he was a coach.

Mr Noble, from the town, had been involved with the rowing club for many years and was also the founding principal of Erne Integrated College from 1994 until his retirement in 2011. He was a past pupil of Portora Royal School and Trinity College Dublin.

Jimmy Jackson-Ware, current principal of Erne Integrated College, yesterday paid tribute to Mr Noble as "a driving force behind the integrated education movement in Enniskillen".

He said: "It is no exaggeration to say that without Tom's energy, vision and industry, Erne Integrated College simply would not exist. As a principal Tom knew every single student personally, he took a specific interest in their lives and celebrated their successes in the exam hall, the sports field, the stage and indeed the workplace.

"All who knew Tom knew that he was a man with a powerful intellect who was driven by a sense of equity and justice and who worked for betterment of the whole community.

"Not only was he a proponent of integrated education, he was one of its visionaries.

"Tom will always have a very special place in the heart of our school as our legendary founding principal and in the history of integrated education a movement which has done so much to heal divisions in our post-conflict society."

Enniskillen Royal Boat Club said members were "absolutely devastated" at the loss of Mr Noble.

"Tom was involved with rowing at the club for many years and we were delighted when he returned to us after his retirement," the club said in a statement on social media," it said.

"He has been absolutely invaluable to the club over the last couple of years and travelled with the kids to London a couple of weeks ago. He relished being back doing what he loved and we were very privileged to have him.

"We dedicated a boat to Tom in December and had a wonderful celebration with all his family at Christmas."

Mr Noble is survived by wife Mary; children Gareth, Gavin, Marie-Claire, Mark and Sarah-Louise; grandchildren Tom, Kristin, Izzy, Ellie, Philip, Maggie and Grace, and siblings Cecil and Pam. His funeral is expected to take place on Thursday.

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