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Nikki Sievwright, swinging Sixties model who joined UDR

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Ulster Defence Regiment veterans have praised the life of an international model who took the unusual step of joining their ranks.

Nikki Sievwright (75) had been the toast of catwalks in Paris and London in the Swinging Sixties before moving to Northern Ireland after marrying a British cavalry officer.

Not content to stay in the Army barracks, she joined the UDR as a Greenfinch ­­- the term used to describe female recruits - and played a crucial role in catching a wanted man near the border in Co Tyrone 'bandit country' in 1978.

Two cars searched at a checkpoint had been given the all-clear by the patrol commander, but Mrs Sievwright insisted on further searches, finding the driver's passport - showing his real name to be that of a wanted man - in one of the female passenger's underwear.

The "adored wife, mother and grandmother" died from sepsis in Great Western Hospital, Swindon, on March 12.

A family notice said: "She was beautiful, kind, generous, loyal, lovingly outrageous, with a vibrant spark and gift for friendship which lit all who knew her."

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, president of the Regimental Association of the UDR, paid tribute to Mrs Sievwright.

"Nikki was an incredible lady who showed great commitment and courage by joining the Ulster Defence Regiment and becoming a Greenfinch, operating in an area where the security forces were regularly targeted both on and off duty," he said.

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the recruitment of the first Greenfinches.

"These were all courageous women who put their lives on the line to protect the entire community and, sadly, a number paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives," he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Nikki's family as they remember a great woman who achieved so much in her life and in the service of her country."

Her funeral is to be held tomorrow at 2pm near Swindon in St Katharine's Church, Savernake.

Belfast Telegraph

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