Belfast Telegraph

Tyrone dog trainer Alan Neill killed in Scottish crash lived for his animals, funeral told

By Victoria Leonard

A Co Tyrone grandfather who lost his life in a three-vehicle collision in Scotland earlier this month was a "very strong character" who possessed "unselfishness and vision", mourners at his funeral were told yesterday.

Well-known Stewartstown gun dog trainer Alan Neill (70) died on July 7 after his Ford Ranger pick-up and a silver Suzuki Swift car collided with a Scania lorry on the A75 near Creetown in Dumfries and Galloway.

He had been towing a trailer with 12 dogs inside, two of which were killed in the crash.

Another two were taken to the local SSPCA to be treated for their injuries.

A 43-year-old woman who was driving the car was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow by air ambulance with serious back injuries. Her 14-year-old female passenger was unharmed.

The 25-year-old lorry driver was uninjured.

In his funeral notice, Mr Neill was described as the "beloved husband of the late Sheila, much-loved father of Sharon and Heather, a dear father-in-law and a devoted grandad of George and Molly".

At his funeral service in Donaghendry Parish Church yesterday, mourners were told of his "rich life" which included taking his dogs to trials across the UK for several months of the year, mixing with everyone "from regular dog-trainers and owners, to members of the aristocracy".

They also heard how Mr Neill enjoyed spending time with his family, including his grandchildren.

The minister conducting the service told those present that Alan "spent much of his life on the road", both in his former career as a HGV driver and through his passion for taking his dogs to trials.

Mr Neill was described as "totally mad" about dogs and "tremendously skilled" with the animals.

"He was an excellent trainer; teaching them right from being puppies, to the point where he gained the highest reputation for the preparation of English pointers as hunting dogs," the minister continued.

"Back home, although they were more than capable of eating almost everything in sight, with just one peep of his whistle the dogs would stop as still as a statue."

Mourners were told of the "mischief" wreaked by Mr Neill's "beloved dogs", including their appetite for remote controls, mobile phones and seat-belts.

They were also told of his close bond with his beloved grandchildren.

"George received plenty of praise from his grandad when he was successful, but it was measured, for Alan was determined that whatever level George reached it should not be seen as the end, but instead the staging post to whatever needed to come next," the minister explained.

"Alan was a good father and an equally good grandfather.

"How he enjoyed, although never in a soppy way, the presence of the latest addition to the family, little Molly, wondering at her tiny hands and teasing her whenever he could."

Those present heard that the day was "one of celebration for a life that was lived as Alan saw it should be".

"He picked up his dream of training dogs and did it.

"How many of us can say we have done what we really want to? Well, Alan provides you with a role model - his example to us is to go and do likewise - you can almost see his waving finger pointing into the future, instructing you to do just this.

"Yet, today is also a day to mourn a life which was cut short at 70 years of age - and a very fit 70. Alan had no intention of 'going' yet. Neither were his family expecting this.

"That this has been a shock is an understatement.

"Somehow, between the lines of the life full-lived on the one hand and the life taken away so tragically on the other, we hold as best as we can onto our faith."

Belfast Telegraph

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