Tributes paid to Lougbrickland radio phone-in regular Geordie Tuft killed in house fire
FARMER and radio phone-in regular Geordie Tuft who died following a house fire at his bungalow in Co Down has been described as a "character" and "legend" who will be sadly missed.
Fire crews from Rathfriland, Newry and Banbridge were called to the bungalow owned by Geordie Tuft, on the Legananny Road, in Loughbrickland shortly after midday on Tuesday.
Mr Tuft was a minor celebrity in Loughbrickland who was known for his comedy call-ins to the Gerry Anderson Show.
He is believed to have been in his 70s and was renowned for his hilarious advice on animal husbandry, particularly goats.
DUP councillor Carla Lockhart said: "This is heart-wrenching news. Loughbrickland is a close-knit community and this will rock it."
She added: "The deceased, who was certainly a local character, will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family and friends. I pray that God will help."
The detached bungalow was extensively damaged in the blaze, which broke out around midday.
It remains unclear how the fire started, although it is being treated as accidental.
Mr Tuft was a regular caller to the late Gerry Anderson's morning programme on BBC Radio Ulster and many listeners paid tribute to his humour and stories over the years.
His advice and wisdom on animals and rural life quickly descended into comedy under interrogation from Mr Anderson and his sidekick Sean Coyle.
Broadcaster Stephen Nolan tweeted: "Geordie Tuft made me laugh so much. Laugh out loud so hard that it hurt. I'll miss him from the airwaves."
Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson said that she had "so many fond memories of a man who came into our homes and enriched our lives."
Presenter Lynette Fay said that Mr Tuft's passing meant "another local radio legend has left us."
In 2004, Mr Tuft was the victim of a violent burglary when masked men struck him on the head and handcuffed him for just £5, although he later claimed to be "not a bit afraid".
At the time of Mr Anderson's death in 2014, Mr Tuft told the BBC: "Now, me and him, we travelled all over, to the Europa Hotel and down the Foyle on a boat trip, away on bus trips. I was his countryside correspondent. I have a world of memories."