Bruce Goldring: A Ballymena character and a friend to all
THE well-known Ballymena newsagent Eugene Diamond summed up the popularity of Bruce Goldring following news of his death when he said he was "universally liked".
Nobody had a bad word to say about Bruce.
One of the town's characters, a long career at Gallaher's tobacco factory had also made him friends across Co Antrim and south Derry and he was always generous with his time.
Even at the age of 86, Bruce was still out and about in his car, offering a helping hand to anyone. On the day he died, he had driven down to the coast to make a delivery for a friend.
He has been remembered as a humble person who wanted little for himself and would have done anything for someone in need.
Bruce was born to Isaac and Alice Goldring in 1935 in north Belfast but grew up in his mother's native Ballymena after moving with her and brother when he was five years old.
They were later joined by his nephew, Maurice, who Bruce treated like a son and shared a special relationship with until his death.
He left school at 14 and worked various jobs before joining Gallahers, where he remained for 37 years until his retirement.
Starting as a machine operator, he progressed to time and motion study and a management position and had fond memories of factory life.
Despite leaving school without qualifications, he was always interested in education and went back to study while at work, earning a BSc degree in Business Studies.
He was also awarded the Wells Medallion for the most outstanding student in communications during his time at Jordanstown in the early 1970s.
Outside work and study, Bruce loved visiting markets and collecting antiques.
A friend's father was a watchmaker and his house was filled with clocks, pocket watches and barometers, plus much else besides.
Sport was another passion. In his early years he played Gaelic football for the short-lived St Patrick’s club in Ballymena and Ahoghill. He also turned out in soccer for Gallahers and Rectory Rangers and was a loyal Man Utd fan all his life.
During one memorable visit to the Aviva stadium in Dublin for a Republic of Ireland match, he went for a walk while others enjoyed a pre-game drink and came back with a vintage guitar which he somehow managed to bring into the ground.
Bruce also loved set-dancing, music sessions and the craic. He was a fine dancer in his youth in Randalstown and various parish halls, and was always very sociable.
A lifelong pioneer and frequent Mass-goer, at his funeral in All Saints Church in Ballymena, Fr Aloysius Lumala described how important his faith was to him.
"He loved to talk about the connections between faith, life and love. His love for life was infectious and he always encouraged others to live life to the full and take every opportunity sent by God."
In retirement, Bruce, who lived alone, would visit Maurice and his family perhaps three or four times a day and had a special bond with their Lhasa Apso dog Max.
"He meant everything to us," Maurice said.
"Bruce was a great friend to all, very witty, very accommodating, and very good to everyone in the family.
"He always had time for people and would have done anything for anyone."
Bruce Goldring died aged 86 on July 25. Predeceased by his siblings Joseph and Sheena, he is survived and sadly missed by his nephews, nieces and family circle.