Saturday, February 24, 2024

HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY WILLIAM

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AN ARDS peninsula man has celebrated turning 100 this month.

Will McAvoy, who was born on Mid Island on Strangford Lough near Greyabbey, celebrated his 100th birthday on May 10.

Born to William and Alice McAvoy, Will is the middle son of three boys. The boys had to negotiate the tides to the mainland where they attended Greyabbey Primary School.

At the age of 14, he returned home to farm with his father and elder brother, Jack. Wildfowling on the lough was a valuable source of income during the war years, where a flat bottom Punt boat, and a mussle loading gun were used. The birds were then sold to Sawyers in Belfast and transported by the Ulster Transport Authority.

Will married Jean Porter of Cardy in 1953 and moved to Main Street, Greyabbey. The couple didn’t have children but were one of the earliest households to have a black and white TV which always ensured plenty of visitors.

During the late 1950s and 60s Greyabbey Dramatic Society presented many three act Ulster comedy plays in which Will was a much acclaimed actor. This put him in good stead for the Ulster Scots Society where he could recite many poems by heart.

As things changed in the 50s, Will was employed at James Brian’s General Merchant, in Tullycavey, Greyabbey where he did meal deliveries, lime spreading and small square baling.

In 1967 the company merged with LEVERS, which took Will around the six counties as a driver helper delivering half cut bags of meal.

In 1968, the couple moved to Stanfield Drive in Newtownards and in 1969 Will became groundsman for Ards Football Club, a job he carried out until the early 70s before joining the National Trust as a warden for Strangford Lough.

This job became particularly close to his heart, caring for the lough and the wildfowl and he carried out his duties with great knowledge and pride until his retirement in 1988. Will and Jean enjoyed retirement until sadly Jean passed away in 1998.

Will enjoyed old tyme dancing at the Ulster Scots Society where many recordings, interviews on TV programmes were aired.

He was a regular attender at Greenwell Street Presbyterian Church. He loved walking along different parts of the loughshore and on the islands around Greyabbey, which are always home to him.

After 54 years living in Stanfield Drive, he recently moved into Oakmont Lodge Care Home, Bangor.

 

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