There were poignant scenes at First Derry Presbyterian Church on Sunday, for a Service of Thanksgiving for the Late James (Jim) Arbuckle.
Representatives from all walks of life attended the service, which as conducted by Rev Dr David Latimer conducted the funeral service.
Reflecting on his life, he said Jim was one of 10 children born into the Arbuckle family on the Northland Road.
“From school Jim moved via an apprenticeship in Du Pont to Teacher Training College. He was the first in the family to go to university. Teaching woodwork and metalwork at Faughan Valley High School is where Jim effectively connected with a generation of young people growing up in and around the city,” he said.
“Amongst his extra curricular activities at Faughan Valley was sport, which was an important part of his life.
“Social media was saturated with comments about Jim and the impact he made on so many people both through education and sport and the presence of people from across the political and religious spectrums, who encountered Jim both through school and sport, was testimony to the high regard huge numbers of people had for Jim Arbuckle.
“Following early retirement from full time teaching Jim continued to be so active across a plethora of activities embracing community work, local politics, writing, broadcasting, music.
“His involvement with the NI football Association Supporters Club was immense. He was a member of the Apprentice Boys Newtowncunningham Club. Jim’s involvement in Education continued through his work with the Teachers Union and Groarty Integrated Primary School, where he effectively and faithfully served as a Governor.
“Music was an important component of Jim’s life and this was skilfully woven into his funeral service by a number of distinguished musicians with whom he frequently interacted.”
Jim was married to Caroline with two children, Craig and Sarah Lyn and lived in Drumahoe, and Dr Latimer described Jim was “a family man first and foremost”.
“Both he and Caroline enjoyed a lovely relationship with their son, daughter, and son-in-law Robert Donnell and daughter-in-law Jennifer and grandsons, Calum and Matthew.
“Jim was a loyal member and regular attended at First Derry Presbyterian Church.
“It was in this church where he had a lifetime association that a huge crowd gathered to offer their sympathy and pay their respects to the man whose life touched so many people.”
While Mr Arbuckle’s remains were being carried into church Delores O’Hare masterfully played the beautiful melody, ‘The Voice of an Angel’ on Uilleann Pipes, by Jim’s brother Roy.
Following a welcome by David Latimer, Minister of First Derry, the congregation enthusiastically sang the 23rd Psalm to the accompaniment of Nigel Cairns.
Mr Arbuckle’s grandson, Calm, read the Serenity Prayer, which was followed by a well-researched and superbly crafted tribute by Mr Arbuckle’s brother, Roy.
The service continued with a musical interlude performed by Tracy McCrery and, after a short period of silence, Mr Arbuckle’s son, Craig, shared some precious, ‘Memories of my Dad.’
The service continued with the congregation joining in the singing of the hymn ‘Be Tho My Vision’ to the Irish tune Slane.
There then followed a song entitled ‘God smiled when you were born’.
This song was written by Jim’s brother Roy who provided guitar accompaniment for Anne Tracey, who movingly and sympathetically sang.
The congregation was invited to sing the Aaronic Blessing, a favourite of Mr Arbuckle’s.
The remains were carried from the church to the melody of the battle hymn of the Republic played on pipes by Delores O’Hare.
Following the committal service at Ballyowen Cemetery, which included the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ played on pipes by Robert Campbell, of Bready Pipe Band, mourners were invited for refreshments to the Belfry Country Inn.