Mr Hubert Bailie

MR Hubert Bailie, from Downpatrick, who had died aged 82, was one of life’s gentlemen.

Rarely, if ever, without a smile on his face, he was cross-community before the expression cross-community was invented and had lifelong friends from both traditions. He was incredibly sociable and loved meeting people regardless of class or creed.

Hubert was born in Newcastle, on January 16, 1938. His father, Arthur, was from a family of Newcastle fishermen and was a World War I veteran. His mother, Elizabeth, from Glasdrumman, worked in a munitions factory in Scotland during the war.

Arthur worked as a guard at Newcastle Railway Station and as boy Hubert used to ride in the steam engine to the ‘Loop’ at Downpatrick and then back home to Newcastle.

As a teenager he used to caddy at Royal County Down Golf Club and developed a lifelong passion for golf. He was also athletic and ran races to the top of Slieve Donard, usually at the back of the pack on the way up but gaining ground on the descent.

He played Gaelic football for Bryansford GAC but after being spotted by the parish priest playing soccer was given an ultimatum to pick between the two codes.

Hubert was not someone who took kindly to being given ultimatums by anyone and chose soccer. Nevertheless he remained a lifelong Down supporter and saw the Mournemen lift the Sam Maguire Cup at Croke Park in 1960 and 1961, and again in 1991.

He also was a lifelong supporter of Preston North End, but only managed to see them play once when as a family treat for his 70th birthday he travelled to their home ground at Deepdale – unfortunately for Hubert, they lost.

His other sporting passion was horse racing and he could calculate the odds of accumulator bets in his head, on a number of occasions winning substantial payouts on his habitual small stakes.

He left school aged 15 to work at Newcastle Cable factory but returned to education in his mid twenties to study at Belfast Tech and then at the Ashby Institute at Queen’s University where he completed a Higher National Diploma in Electrical Engineering.

He began work for Northern Ireland Electricity in 1964, initially in Belfast, but was transferred to Coleraine 1968 where he moved with his young family. He was a member of Portstewart Golf Club.

In 1981 he was transferred back to Belfast and became Assistant Health and Safety Officer for NIE, where he helped to develop and implement policy.

He was a highly regarded member of the Northern Ireland Health and Safety Group, serving as its chairman in 1988 and working with his counterparts throughout the UK and the Irish Republic. He took early retirement in 1993.

In 1981 Hubert returned to his native Co Down, setting up home in Downpatrick with his wife, Maud and four children, Tony, Brendan, Elaine and Mary. He had met Maud in 1960 in Castlewellan during the celebrations following Down’s victory in the All-Ireland final and they were married in 1964.

He became a member of Downpatrick Golf Club and served for many years on its council, becoming club captain in 2000 and president in 2012 and 2013.

During his retirement, he took up painting and cycling and throughout his life he was a keen gardener.

Hubert was someone who valued friendship and was constantly in contact with friends from childhood, from throughout his career at NIE and Portstewart and Downpatrick Golf Clubs, neighbours and wider community.

He died on April 3. In addition to his wife and children, he is also survived by his grandchildren, Daniel, Rachel and Elsie.