Family leads tributes for ‘Big John’ Armstrong

John Armstrong with his daughters Holly (right) and Sasha-Louise, plus son Joel
John Armstrong with his daughters Holly (right) and Sasha-Louise, plus son Joel

Portadown is again mourning the loss of a true friend with the death of ‘Big John’ Armstrong, as the result of a road accident last Sunday morning.

John, a 6’4” giant of a man, was a friend of Clifford Forbes, who was on the Lough Ree Portadown Pikers’ fishing trip which claimed the lives of anglers Daryl Burke and David Warnock. “Sorry to hear of the death of the Big Man,” Clifford stated on his Facebook account. The Armstrongs were sent the condolences of Daryl’s widow Louise, who is expecting a baby daughter on May 10.

John, a lorry driver with the Portadown firm LMK, is survived by daughters Holly and Sasha-Louise, their mother Tracy, his parents Robert and Maureen, and partner Emma, plus brothers Karl and Stephen. The family live at Oakwood Place in the Brownstown estate and his home with Emma is at Keelmount Grange, Scotch Street. Tracy said, “We’re all united in grief. He was a true family man, we all adored him. We’re devastated.”

Typical of John’s humour and his love for his children is the fact that he took a ‘selfie’ photograph of all four just two weeks ago, and it has pride of place in the family album.

He was laid to rest yesterday (Thursday) after a moving funeral service at St Mark’s Church of Ireland, with Canon Jim Campbell, the Rector, comforting the family. “It’s a terrible tragedy,” he said, “especially coming so soon after the Lough Ree tragedy.”

Said Tracy, “We are so moved by the number of people who have sympathised with us. It seems that everybody knew John. He was involved in so many things, and the sympathy is just pouring in.” And Holly, Sasha-Louise and Joel also paid tribute to a dad who gave them so much of his time and affection.

John Armstrong was born in Germany, where his father was serving with the British Army, and, after living in various Army locations, the family moved to Portadown when he was 12.

His first job was with Douglas’s store at the Brownstown Road-Armagh Road corner, after which he drove a taxi for Call-A-Cab for 15 years, before taking to driving a 7.5 ton lorry for LMK. He was a member of Portadown True Blues Flute Band for a few years and laterally with Craigavon Protestant Boys. He was also into kick boxing with the Mid-Ulster club.

Hundreds attended yesterday’s funeral at St Mark’s. Arrangements were by Ian Milne and John’s remains are being cremated.