Northern Ireland news

Robert Flowerday funeral: Retired teacher 'shone like a star in the universe'

The funeral of Robert Flowerday in Crumlin. Picture by Ann McManus
Maeve Connolly and Suzanne McGonagle

RETIRED teacher Robert Flowerday has been remembered as someone who "shone like a star in the universe".

Mourners heard the 64-year-old murder victim described as an "incredible man" full of gentleness, kindness and love.

Rev Leslie Addis led today's funeral service at Crumlin Presbyterian Church and told the congregation he had met Mr Flowerday on a bus 45 years ago.

"I was travelling from Crumlin to school at BRA, Robert was a student at Queen's. We tortured him. He was, typically, totally unfazed.

..."For as long as I have known him, Robert Flowerday has shone like a star in the universe".

Rev Addis said he had the maths tutor to thank for his life as a minister and had told him so the last time they met.

Mr Flowerday's sister told mourners that if "her brother's death unites the community, it will not be in vain".

His sister Pat described how the family had been humbled by "the outpouring of love" for their brother.

She also thanked the "courageous people" who had come forward with information relating to his murder.

Andrew Master, lead pastor at Lagan Valley Vineyard Church, told mourners he felt fortunate to have known "such an incredible man" who was "quirky... different... very much his own man".

"I heard a story just yesterday about a time several years ago when Robert bought a used car, a friend noticed the number plate and informed Robert that the number plate was worth a sum of money.

"Robert proceeded to sell the plates and then took the amount he received to the original seller of the car. That was not an unusual thing for Robert to do."

Mr Flowerday had taught at Antrim Grammar School for 26 years and was found dead in his Mill Road home in Crumlim on Sunday January 28, hours after attending church.

Michael Owens (33) from Lisburn Road in Glenavy has been charged with his murder and is also accused of the burglary of Mr Flowerday’s home on December 6 last year when he allegedly stole £100 cash.

Mr Master described Mr Flowerday as someone who "stood out" in "an age of rampant selfishness and unshakled consumerism". 

"In an age of increasing suspicion and fear of people who are not like us Robert stood out. He stood out as one prepared to walk a different road, a road that led him towards others.

"He stood out because he sought not to see difference but to bring people together. He stood out because he was a man of deep humility, gentleness and steely strength. He stood out because he embodied so much of what so many of us long for our lives to become but don’t quite know how to get there.

"But in closing I think it is important to note that Robert did not stand out simply as one passionate about doing good. His commitment to love and care for others flowed directly from his commitment and love for Jesus.

"Robert’s faith in Jesus was at the absolute centre of his life, he was both a man of prayer and a man of action."

The funeral of Robert Flowerday. Picture by Ann McManus.

Picture by Ann McManus.

The hearse stops at Robert Flowerday's home. Picture Ann McManus.

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