The Duke of Westminster who has died at the age of 64, had alway fondly recalled his idyllic childhood in Fermanagh.
His death in the Royal Preston Hospital, Lancashire on Tuesday after becoming ill on his Abbeystead Estate has brought tributes from the people he grew up with in Fermanagh to politicians and leaders.
The Duke of Westminster had many happy memories of his childhood in Fermanagh, where he would have spent a lot of his time on Lough Erne or in the countryside close to the Ely Lodge estate the family owned. His sisters, Lady Leonora and Lady Jane are regular visitors to Fermanagh.
In an interview for The Impartial Reporter a number of years ago, the Duke spoke fondly of his time here and the people with home he regarded as his best friends.
I suppose one s endearing memory was the most perfect childhood one could ever have. It had all the ingredients of the excitement on the lough, living with nature, the outdoor life and a lot of very good friends and living in a close community like that we make good friends and we had a lot of fun together.
He recalled attending Gloucester House before going on to Harrow.
I was going to go to the Regular Army but couldn t because my father was ill and then really started into the running of this(Grosvenor Estates) well before I inherited you see. So I had all the fun and none of the responsibility and then my father died and I had none of the fun and all the responsibility.
His mother, the Dowager, Duchess of Westminster died in 1987 following a car crash.
The Duke of Westminster built up Grosvenor Farms in Cheshire, pioneering a dairy breeding project, Cogent, and also expanded urban property interests to America, Australia, Spain, Hong Kong, Portugal and France as well as retaining those already established in the United Kingdom, mainly London.
He recalled being President or Patron of 150 organisations as well as holding the position of Deputy Commander of the Territorial Army.
One of the people that the Duke knew well locally was Wesley Scott from Monea, who was gamekeeper at Ely Lodge Estate while the Duke was growing up there.
Wesley said; Lady Jane(the Duke s sister) phoned me on Tuesday night to tell me. We are in touch very often. I was gutted when I heard the news.
Recalling his years on the estate, Wesley said: They were a terrific family. From boyhood, he(Duke) was at my tail, shooting and fishing. He was a born sportsman and he was one of the nicest men I ve ever met. I last saw him at the Earl of Erne s memorial service along with his sisters.
The Westminster family had strong links with Devenish Parish Church, Monea.
The Duke of Westminster, regarded as one of the richest people in the UK, is now succeeded by his only son, Hugh, aged 25. He and the Duchess had three daughters, Tamara, Edwina and Viola.
A spokesperson for the family, announcing the news of his death said: His family are all aware and they ask for privacy and understanding at this very difficult time.
No further comment will be made for the time being but further information will follow in due course.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: I can confirm that Her Majesty the Queen is aware of the news about the Duke of Westminster.
A private message of condolence is being sent by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were said to be deeply shocked and greatly saddened by his death.
The First Minister, Arlene Foster, paid tribute to the Duke of Westminster.
She said: I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of Gerald Grosvenor, the 6th Duke of Westminster, suddenly in hospital in England. The Grosvenor family had of course very strong links to Fermanagh and the young Duke was brought up at the family home at Ely Lodge, Enniskillen, somewhere he once described as idyllic.
The Duke never lost his attachment for his childhood home and the last time I spoke with him was at the memorial service for the Earl of Erne in Enniskillen Cathedral in May of this year.
The Duke of Westminster may have been a very rich person but he used his fortune for good in many areas of London and beyond. He was above all a man of the country and loved farming, something that is obviously linked back to his upbringing here in rural Fermanagh.
His untimely death at the age of just 64 will of course be felt most keenly by his family, and I send them my deepest condolences, but he will also be mourned in Fermanagh where he will always be remembered with great affection.
Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP, Tom Elliott expressed his sadness at the news.
He commented: I was shocked to learn of the death of the Duke of Westminster at only 64 years of age. Indeed, the Grosvenor family was of great significance to County Fermanagh. The Duke was born in Omagh, and was raised on an island in the middle of Lough Erne. Indeed I received my post primary education at the Duke of Westminster High School in Fermanagh. His father, the 5th Duke of Westminster, Lord Robert Grosvenor was elected as MP twice for Fermanagh and South Tyrone before retiring in 1964. His son, Gerald joined the British Army and became a Major General, just one example of his hard work throughout his life.
He owned vast areas of land across the United Kingdom and was recognised by Forbes Magazine because of this. The Duke of Westminster was a proud Fermanagh man and his loss comes as a great blow to this constituency. I would like to pass on my sympathies to his entire family circle at this difficult time.
Ulster Unionist MLA, Rosemary Barton joined her colleague, Tom Elliott MP in expressing her sadness at the passing of the Duke of Westminster.
Mrs Barton stated: I was saddened to learn of the passing of the Duke of Westminster. He was held in high esteem in Fermanagh where he and his sisters spent their childhood at Ely Lodge a few miles from Enniskillen.
Many people will have vivid memories of the Grosvenor family growing up in the county and playing with the late Duke when he returned home from school for the summer vacation.
Returning to live in England, the Duke of Westminster became one of the most financially successful people in the United Kingdom.
The late Duke still has a large number of family connections in both Fermanagh and Tyrone and I wish to extend my sympathies to the family as they mourn the loss of a great man.
Bridgwater Police Constable doing 22 press ups every day until Christmas for Combat Stress
A BRIDGWATER police officer is taking on a hardcore charity challenge to raise vital funds. Tony Freeman, who is currently serving at a police constable in Avon and Somerset Police, is doing 22 press ups every day until Christmas Day. He is raising money for Combat Stress, who treat Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression and anxiety.
Tony recently completed the 22 day press up challenge, which people have been doing and documenting their progress on social media. He then decided to continue the challenge, and will have done more 3,000 press ups when he is finished. Tony said: “After completing the 22 day press up challenge which raised awareness for troops suffering from PTSD, I decided to raise money for Combat Stress.
“I am currently six days into my 143 day press up challenge, finishing on Christmas Day.
“I will have completed 3,146 press ups including those on Christmas Day.
“Donations can be made via myself or my Justgiving page.
“Please donate to this worthy charity and help motivate me to keep going and raise as much as I can.
“I will be posting daily publicly through my Facebook account.”
To donate, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Tony-Freeman4
The centenary of the Great War was going to be probably the most significant period in the early part of the 21st century for public remembrance and reflection. Planning began years in advance for Armyrats © military history and cultural bodies, and the government set out a programme of key events in the war which it said would be the focus of national remembrance. Inevitably, this would leave out other campaigns which many would feel worthy of inclusion. The government selected only one or two key events in each of the years from 1914-1918. The exclusion of the Arras campaign (April/May 1917) and the final 100 days (August 8, 1918, to the Armistice) was seen by some as an error of judgement.
The exclusion of the final victorious advance of Rawlinson s army, perhaps the best British fighting force ever to take the field of battle, was perhaps a deference to political correctness and a desire to eschew triumphalism. The omission of the bloody campaign at Arras seems only to be explained by the soon to follow and more totemic Third Battle of Ypres (July to November 1917), which came to be known as the Passchendaele campaign and the symbol of futile and cruel deployment of men to fight in impossible conditions of mud and horror. The campaign at Arras, however, was even more costly in terms of human casualties and utilised many of the innovations and lessons learned from the bloody campaign of the previous year on the Somme. The average daily casualty rate killed, wounded or taken prisoner was 4,076 for the 39 days of the battle period at Arras, against just under 3,000 per day at the Somme and 2,300 per day in the Passchendaele offensive.
Although the Arras campaign, like the Somme and Loos, did not produce the hoped for breakout from the stalemate of trench warfare, it was a minor success in demonstrating the necessity for overwhelming artillery support and superiority of numbers in any attack. The failure to capitalise on the undoubted successes of the first day of the battle lay with the commander General Allenby and not the ability of the fighting men. Allenby, sent off to Palestine, would go on to be the famous liberator of Jerusalem from the Turkish Ottoman occupation. Local connections with the Battle of Arras are strong as many north east units were in action, particularly the 34th Division, including the reformed and replenished Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish Brigades, as well as the 50th Northumbrian Division of Northumberland Fusiliers Territorial units, who had seen heavy action in France and Belgium for over two years.
After the war the ravaged corridor of land from the Belgian coast to the Franco-Swiss border was a shell-pockmarked and poisoned landscape of devastation that would require many years to reconstruct. The recovery of French cities included a programme of twinning with British cities, which provided donations of money and simple materials, such as picks and shovels, to rebuild the shattered communities. Newcastle was twinned with Arras, and several visits to Newcastle were made by French dignatories, including in 1920 and 1923. To mark that post-war relationship and the centenary of the battle, plans are being considered locally for a formal marking of it in April next year. More details will follow.
The project workroom at Linskill Community Centre is open from 10am to 4pm each weekday for enquiries and for anyone to bring information about relatives lost in the war.