Church officer at Thomas Street who did work in the community

Harry Burrows.
Harry Burrows.

Harry Burrows was best known in his later years as church officer at Thomas Street Methodist – but that was just the tip of the iceberg of the work he did for the church and for the community at large.

His love of Thomas Street was an integral part of his upbringing. starting in the Sunday School, the Boys’ Brigade and helping his parents Lynn and Minnie who were joint sextons at the church. They lived in the Sexton’s House in Edward Street.

He went through the Life Boys and the BB at Thomas Street (1st Portadown) under the captaincy of Billy Coulter, and went on to be leader-in-charge of the Life Boys when the Portadown Battalion was in a strong period of growth. He played a full part in the organisation of the Life Boys Section (later the Junior Section) of the BB.

Harry (80) died in hospital after an illness, and will be greatly missed by a wide section of the community, not least at Portadown football matches where he supported the Ports as long as he could – right up until the recent Irish Cup victory against Linfield when his favourites beat the mighty Blues.

But most of all, he loved his family and leaves Sally, his wife of 55 years, son David, daughter Merlene, as well as granddaughters Leanne, Jemma, Judith and Sarah; great-grandchildren Katie and Charlie. He is also survived by brothers, Pastor David Burrows (Arizona) and Lynn. He was predeceased by sisters Sally and Peggy. He and wife Sally had a caravan in Kilkeel where they spent many happy holidays.

Harry Burrows was educated at Thomas Street Public Elementary School (next door to the church) after which he went into retailing. His first job was with Harvey’s Sports Shop at High Street, Portadown, and he moved to Banbridge and Houston’s, and then to Tyler’s and Anderson-McAuley’s in Belfast.

Work-wise, though, he is best known in Portadown as a postman. He spent the last 30 years of his working life with the Post Office in Portadown, initially at the sorting office at the town’s railway station in Watson Street, and then at Mill Avenue.

He plumped for early retirement, but didn’t put his feet up, moving in as church officer in Thomas Street. He was especially proud of the Wesley Hall, with all its activities, including the pre-school play group.

Sport also played an important part in his life – he was a Ports fans from his childhood, and he and his son, David, were familiar faces at Shamrock Park and the ‘away’ matches. He took David from childhood and the roles were reversed when David took his father along later on.

He was also a Manchester United fan, and David travelled with him to the United-Man City match earlier this season. And they regularly went to the Northern Ireland matches, with Harry a longtime fan.

Harry was also a keen indoor and outdoor bowler, having played with Portadown Methodist and Portadown Pavilion indoors (he was chairman of both) and he was President of Portadown Outdoor Club at the Pleasure Gardens, having been skip of the B team.

He was a trustee at Thomas Street and a member of the various prayer and lay witness groups. His love for church and family were evident at the funeral service in the packed church which. It was conducted by Rev Norman Cardwell, minister at Thomas Street.

Hymns were ‘Power in the Blood’ and ‘Sing a Wondrous Love of Jesus’. Bible readings were by grandchildren Mona Trainer and Ann Aldred. His conversion hymn (‘My Jesus I Love Three’) was recorded by granddaughters Sarah Woods and Judith McMurray and was played as the mourners left the church. Burial was at Seagoe Cemetery.