It was a sad irony that Tony Hall – as Portadown’s Poppy Appeal organiser – was laid to rest on Sunday, just hours after the town held its annual remembrance service in the town centre.
Tony (62) died after a short illness. He had taken suddenly ill and died in Craigavon Hospital a few days later – on Friday of last week.
It was fitting that he should be afforded a full Royal British Legion funeral. His coffin was draped in the Union flag and poppies were dropped into the grave by his colleagues from the Portadown branch of the RBL.
Secretary Ronnie Hynes said, “It was our special tribute to him, with Tony having been Poppy Appeals organiser for 11 years and a committee men for 15 years.”
That very morning, the same RBL members were prominent in the town ceremony – it was a sea of poppies, although Tony could not be involved this year in selling them.
In 2014, he received one of the last Craigavon Mayor’s Awards for his dedication to the poppy cause – it was endemic in the man. His mother was the legendary Babs Hall, who gave such selfless service to the Poppy Appeal for so many years until her death 11 years ago. Tony was honoured to follow her, and he saw the town’s annual appeal edge around the £50,000 mark.
He was the son of Babs and John Hall of Thomas Street. He never married and is survived by his sister Carroll Primrose, brother-in-law Collen and nephews Ben and John.
He was educated at Thomas Street Primary School and Clounagh Junior High, after which he served his apprenticeship with Edgar Electric in Portadown. He served in the RUC at the height of the Troubles, from 1971-76 in the Newry and Armagh areas. After that, he was a self-employed electrician.
His home was at Annagh Hill and he will be remembered there as a thoroughly decent man who helped his neighbours any way he could – especially if they required electrical work in their home. The Legion headquarters at Thomas Street was his second home and he carried out a lot of maintenance there on a voluntary basis.
Former Portadown RBL president Doug Beattie MC, said, “Tony Hall epitomised what the Royal British Legion stood for. He was dedicated to caring for the armed forces community in the Portadown area and coordinated the annual Poppy Appeal for many years with enthusiasm and with the utmost diligence. It was down to his personal efforts that, year on year, the contributions from the Portadown branch towards the general Poppy Appeal increased.
“He was immediately distinguishable, not just by his magnificent moustache, but by his sheer presence. He gave up so much for others, yet asked for nothing in return. He will be missed by family, friends and members of the Royal British Legion.”
Tony’s personal remembrance service was held in Seagoe Parish Church and it was conducted Canon Michael Kennedy and Rev Keith Morris.
The special RBL interment was at Seagoe Cemetery. Donations in lieu of flowers are to the Royal British Legion, c/o Poots Funeral Directors, 42 Bridge Street, Portadown BT63 5AE.