Thursday, 9 November 2017

VILLAGE IN MOURNING thumbnailFamily members were among the pall-bearers during the funeral of Patrick Ignatius (Nishi) Ward which took place at Plumbridge on Monday. His death followed a quad bike incident on the family farm on Thursday.

A RURAL West Tyrone community has seen a huge outpouring of grief and sorrow following the tragic death of a prominent local businessman in a quad bike accident on his farm near Plumbridge.

Massive numbers of mourners thronged to the Glenely Valley village on Monday morning for the emotional funeral of 45-year -old Patrick Ignatius (Nishi) Ward, of Landahussey Road, Lisnacreight.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) was called to the scene of the accident and a rapid response paramedic, an accident and emergency crew, while the air ambulance also attended the incident.

A NIAS spokesman said: "No one was taken from the scene."

Mr Ward founded Plumbridge-based firm Waste Systems in 2009. The company designs, manufactures and supplies turnkey systems and stand-alone machinery for the waste separation and recycling industries.

In 2016, it landed a multi-million pound deal to supply its products throughout the UK. It also sells its products across Europe and North America.

The tragedy followed the sad passing, also last Thursday, of 30-year-old Sion Mills father-of-two. Stephen McElwee, who died a week after being involved in a car crash. He was buried following Requiem Mass at St Theresa's Church, Sion Mills on Sunday.

The esteem and respect in which the late Mr Ward was held was evident in the numbers that called to the family home to pay their respects since the incident happened. This was also demonstrated by the hundreds that attended his funeral Mass at Sacred Heart Church, Plumbridge.

The cortège travelled the short distance from the Ward home somewhat fittingly led by the family's beloved vintage red Massey Ferguson tractor.

It was greeted at the church by a guard-of-honour which included representatives from the local St Peter's Primary School, Drumragh Integrated College, Omagh, the South West College, Omagh; Glenelly Ladies GFC and the O'Kane School of Irish Dancing.

The village came to a standstill during the Requiem Mass as mourners in the church, which was packed to overflowing, listened to local parish priest, Rev Brian Donnelly, describe Mr Ward as 'trojan figure' in the community and a 'man who made things happen'.

During Mass several items were carried to the alter by the family members to commemorate the life and times of Mr Ward.

These included a tin whistle, a family photograph, a business award, a Japanese toy doll, stones from the family farm - all to illustrate his love of his community, music, family, farm and travels to promote his local business overseas.

Mr Ward's sister, Patricia, assisted in this regard while another sister, Roisin and niece, Niamh, performed the readings. The children, Aodhán, Sinéad, Eimear and Fionnuala read the Prayers of the Faithful, while Mr Ward's nieces, Dervla and Aine carried the gifts to the alter.

The reflection poem was read by Mr Ward's wife Jennifer. It received a warm round of applause from the congregation.

In his homily Fr Donnelly, said since Mr Ward's untimely death, there had been a huge outpouring of grief and sorrow and many tributes had been expressed about the kind of person Mr Ward was.

Many also rightly expressed their admiration, gratitude and outstanding achievements they had for him both as a family man and for his entre preneurial acumen.

He said Mr Ward could have been a successful businessman anywhere but he had a deep love of his own place and people.

"When word came that Nishi was killed in the fields of his family farm, it seemed poignant that it was in those fields of his childhood where he first emerged into the world, where he got to know about living and being a man, that this should be the place that the gateway to eternal life should also be present.

"There is comfort in knowing that Nishi was greatly loved and that he loved his family and place of birth. I suppose throughout his life that is what made his remain at home rather than go elsewhere to make his fortune. Without doubt he could have been a successful businessman anywhere in this globe but he felt an attachment to his home place and his own people and he felt that deep love in return.

"He was a trojan figure whose courage, tenacity and innate ability benefited so many. He lived the motto 'Carpe Diem'- 'seize the day', grasp the moment. Nishi made things happen and as such packed in so much to his short life and in the process changes for the better the lives of so many others.

Above all he was a loving father, son, brother, uncle, friend and neighbour.

His own human qualities informed his entrepreneurial talent and made his likeable and popular," he said.

He added that they could, on that sad day, draw a lesson from his life to make the most of one's abilities and opportunities and make each day count.

Mr Ward is survived by his wife Jennifer, son, Aodhán; daughters, Sinéad, Eimear and Fionnuala; mother Anne; brothers, Damien and Brian; sisters, Patricia, Roisin, Concepta and Lorraine and was pre-deceased by his father, Paddy and sisters, Ursula and Gabrielle.

Fr Donnelly also officiated at the graveside in the adjoining cemetery.

Tributes have been paid to the late Mr Ward from representatives of the political and business spectrum.

Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest Northern Ireland, said Mr Ward was "an integral part of Northern Ireland's manuf acturing industry".

"Nishi was a much-respected businessman who was instrumental in the global growth of Waste Systems Ltd in Plumbridge," he said.

"His commitment to the growth and development of Waste Systems was widely admired and he will be missed by both the business and wider community in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area."

SDLP West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan said the community was in shock following Mr Ward's death.

"I knew the man well and had a meeting with him only last week. He was a man of endless passion and energy, who was dedicated to his wife and children and had an amazing passion for life and for the local community."

He added Mr Ward's "vision, leadership and deter mination" had taken his business global.

"Local job creation was always at the heart of his agenda. His death will be a serious loss to the community and to local people. It's hard to imagine," he said.

Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer said there was a "palpable sense of shock" in the area.

Speaking after the funeral, Mr McAleer said his death had stunned Plumbridge and the Glenelly Valley.

"Nishi was very well known and respected in the community and the huge turnout at his funeral and wake is testimony to the esteem which he was held in. He was extremely hard working and the fact that he set up a hugely successful business in an area where there are few other employment opportunities is due to his hard work and vision.

"Above all, his passing will have a profound impact on his family. He was a devoted father, son, husband and brother.

"Nishi was also widely known in engineering circles and with Tyrone being a international hotspot for engineering, Nishi's tragic passing is reverberating throughout the county and beyond.

"His death has stunned Plumbridge and the Glenelly Valley. This is a close-knit farming and rural community who pull together in times of need.

This was evident most recently when the community was devastated by the flash flood in August. I am sure that this community support and resilience will wrap itself around the Ward family in the difficult times ahead," he said.


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