Inspirational Dromore lady passes away

Dromore woman Mrs Valkyrie (Val) Carleton (nee Upham) aged 83 years, died peacefully at Lurgan Hospital after a period of illness.

Val was born in Chester to parents Thomas Henry Upham, Army Officer and Alice (nee Gill). She was the youngest and last surviving of four sisters, Maureen, Elizabeth and Kathleen.

Val was educated at Hawarden School in Chester where she was a member of the Girl Guides and took ballet lessons. The family moved back to Bangor in Northern Ireland where Val attended Glenlola Girl’s Grammar School. After leaving school Val worked for a time in the Test Pilot’s department at Hawkers, and then in the Civil Service in Stormont.

Val was a popular member of Ward Park Lawn Tennis Club, Bangor, wining several ladies singles cups from 1952 to 1960.

Val married John Edward (Jack) Carleton on April 3 1956 at All Souls Church, Belfast. Both were accomplished dancers and made a handsome couple at the Floral Hall in Belfast. After a brief honeymoon in London they set sail on the Kenya Castle for the start of Jack’s service abroad, stationed at the Medical Department Health Training School in Kongua and Lindi in Kenya. Val enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle, going on safari, playing tennis, swimming and enjoying the social life of invitations to sundowners.

They returned to Northern Ireland in 1960 when Jack took up a position as Public Health Inspector for Banbridge District Council. Val was very much a city girl, very stylish, enjoying the buzz and a keen observer of the fashions and styles.

Val and Jack lived briefly in Blackskull whilst building their house on the Banbridge Road in Dromore. After being blessed with two daughters Vivienne and Lydia, Val became a home maker and dedicated her life to her family. Val like Jack was a keen gardener with a love of flowers and was often seen in the garden.

Val’s family quarry (Whitespots) provided the stone to build Scrabo Tower, of which she was extremely proud.

Val had a continued love of aeroplanes, enjoying trips to airshows in her latter years and especially enjoyed watching the Battle of Britain and Reach for the Sky.

Val enjoyed walking and trips out with Lydia and Ed and their rough collie Missy and was fond of taking holidays with Lydia, Ed and her sister Betty. Val was also blessed with a granddaughter Sarah for 11 years.

Val was a regular visitor to Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church up until her stroke in April 2010. Her strong, independent character and her determination to be back in her own house meant that to the surprise of social services she was installed back in her house in September. She enjoyed three and three quarter years of reasonably independent living with the help and support of her daughters and carers.

A personal ambition was finally achieved in May of 2013 when at the age of 83 she sailed from Bangor to Rathlin Island and later over to Islay and Ardfern in Scotland.

Val was a very private person and will be remembered best for being a pillar of strength to her family.

The church service was conducted by the Reverend Gary Trueman at Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church, Dromore. Two of Val’s favourite hymns were sung, the 23rd Psalm and Abide with Me. Violinist Irene Gibbs from the Lisburn School of Music played Morning has Broken and Amazing Grace.

The committal service at the grave side was conducted by the Rev. Gary Trueman in the New Cemetery, Banbridge. Funeral arrangements were made by R.J Poots and Co. Ltd of Dromore.

Val leaves behind her two daughters and sons-on-law’s Mark and Edward. Val lived for over 50 years on the Bann Road in Dromore and will be very much missed by friends and neighbours.