Huge crowds gathered to say goodbye to the much-loved local character, Geordie Tuft, who was laid to rest on Sunday (March 13) following a service in Aghaderg Parish Church, Loughbrickland.
The popular farmer who brought laughter to the lives of many as a regular caller to Gerry Anderson’s morning programme, tragically died in circumstances involving a fire at his Legannany Road home earlier this month.
It was later learned he died after suffering a heart attack.
His quirky advice on animals, particularly goats, caused great amusement not only for listeners of the BBC Radio Ulster show, but also the late presenter and his co-presenter Sean Coyle.
At the service of thanksgiving for Geordie’s life, a tribute from his son Eddie was read by Rev Karl Teggarty.
The tribute described Geordie as a “loving father, grandfather, uncle, great uncle and at one time husband”.
Rev Teggarty went on to mention Geordie’s biggest passions in his life - nature, the country side and his animals.
“I cannot name all of them,” he said, “ as the church is needed again next Sunday.
“But I am sure many of you have heard of Bin Ladin the one eyed pony, Stanley the turkey, Hooch the pot belly pig, Heidi the donkey, and Jack the ferret who is famous for going on Children in Need at the Rickety Wheel.
“There was also Martha the goose and not forgetting Billy the Goat who starred in a film.
“He also loved his dogs Tiny, Lady and Rusty.
“Geese and chickens were also in the family.
“Geordie had a gift with animals and could make them feel quite human.”
The two animals that were with him to the end were Stanley the goat, who would push open the half door and wander into the house, and Rusty the dog who shared the same bed with Geordie and kept an eye on him.
Mourners were told how Geordie loved the peacefulness of the countryside but also the craic he would get from the Gerry Anderson show, ‘sitting with his special cuppa with the little nip’.
In his early years Geordie had worked as a groundsman in Loughbrickland Park, when it won the best village award. He also enjoyed fishing and hunting.
Rev Teggarty concluded: “There are three words that describe Geordie – ‘A True Character’”.
He was the dearly loved father of Eddie and cherished brother of Nan, Violet and Alwyn.
Among mourners at the service were radio presenter Sean Coyle, Undertones bassist Mickey Bradley and MLA Jo-Anne Dobson.
The USPCA is to benefit from donations in memory of the renowned animal-lover.