Lives Remembered

Tony McGuickin: Former milkman was embodiment of credit union's community ethos

Aeneas Bonner

TONY McGuickin embodied the credit union ethos of serving people, not profit.

For almost a quarter of a century he was employed by Newington Credit Union in north Belfast, where much of his work focused on helping families struggling with debt.

When he reluctantly retired aged 65 he was back within a month, keen to offer his expertise again.

He was passionate about his work, believing people should be helped with their problems rather than condemned for financial hardship.

Even treatment for cancer did not stop him doing the job he loved, travelling to the office from radiotherapy sessions each morning and working right up until serious illness finally forced him to stop last year.

Tony knew himself the value of a second chance in life, owing his career to a return to education.

Born in 1946 in Carrick Hill, the third of eight children, he had to leave St Patrick's CBS on Donegall Street aged 14 to help support his family.

He worked for many years as a milkman, becoming a popular figure on his Carrick Hill and Oldpark round.

And it was as a 16-year-old making daily deliveries to a shop on Oldpark Road that he first met Philomena Graham.

They wed five years later and enjoyed 52 happy years of marriage, first in Dermott Hill and then Whitewell Road.

They were blessed with three children but following the outbreak of the Troubles they moved to London for the sake of their young family.

When they returned Tony realised that he would need qualifications to get a good job and decided to get the O-Levels and A-Levels he had missed out on.

The reward was many enjoyable years with Newington Credit Union, helping the people of his community help themselves.

Outgoing and affable, but the soul of discretion, he is universally remembered as a kind and good man, someone who simply wanted to help.

The credit union was his life and he would always encourage people to join. Even three attempted robberies did not dim his enthusiasm.

Away from work he loved Arsenal FC and always intended to travel over with son Anthony for a match.

Anthony's sudden death from septicaemia a year ago was a devastating blow and one from which he never recovered.

Tony doted on his children and five grandchildren, always wanting them to benefit from the opportunities he had been denied.

When his cancer returned for a third time he was also determined to lift the burden from his family.

Sitting together in the little church by the coast in Rossglass, Co Down, he wrote down everything he wanted for his funeral so there was nothing to distract from their remaining time together.

He and his wife also travelled around their favourite haunts of younger years, including the many chip shops of north Belfast.

Tony McGuickin died on St Valentine's Day, a day after his 74th birthday, and was buried in his Arsenal top after Requiem Mass at St Gerard's Church.

He is survived and sadly missed by his wife Philomena, daughters Karain and Michelle, grandchildren Blain, Christopher, Dominic, Niamh and Daniel and family circle.

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Lives Remembered