The missing face at Scarva for the annual sham fight

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One familiar face missing – and which will be sadly missed – at Scarva on the Thirteenth will be that of John Hanna, with the proud village man having been killed in a freak accident on June 22.

Mr. Hanna (66) was driving a tractor when he was killed. No other vehicle in the accident on the Ballinlea Road Ballintoy in North Antrim.

His wife Joan Baird (who retained her maiden name) said that ‘Scarva Black Day’ held a special place in the life of the former Banbridge District UUP councillor, known in the area as ‘Mr Scarva’. He campaigned relentlessly for the village – mainly for the restoration of the Newry Canal and the increased use of trains leaving from the station there.

Joan lives in North Antrim and was joined by John at weekends before he returned home south. The week before he died, he had attended a meeting of Scarva’s Royal Black Preceptory 1000 which organises the annual event which celebrates King William’s victory over King James. She, too, is a UUP councillor - of the newly-formed Causeway Coast and Glens Council.

Joan explained, “It was his home place and he always tried to promote it along with the wider Banbridge area. He was also on the organising committee of the Sham Fight, which he wanted to widen out into an international festival. A few years back he brought politicians from Meath and Louth up to the event and they had a great time.”

She added that was proud of Scarva and also loved coming north at the weekends and taking part in farming. Sadly, it was while driving a tractor that he died – and there will be a void in Scarva, especially among the members of RBP 1000 this year.