Thanksgiving for a life well lived

Today was the funeral and thanksgiving for my mum’s eldest brother, John Colville.  It was lovely to hear the memories of him and tributes paid movingly by brothers, sons, friends and colleagues.

My memory of Uncle Johnny was of him playing the piano, impressively and effortlessly, without any music, on a Christmas evening, at the end of a large family gathering. His dog, Skip, was never far from his feet.

He was a highly esteemed plastic surgeon here in N Ireland, with a special interest in hand surgery.  He was the first surgeon to reattach a severed finger (or maybe it was a thumb!) in N Ireland.  He made a postive impact on many lives with his surgical skills.

As well as a surgeon, he was always facsinated by how things worked, and on improving them. In his workshop he would work on boats, steam engines and in his retirement made grandfather clocks from scratch with his lathe. My Uncle Jimmy recalled one of his last visits to Uncle Johnny’s workshop when he was working on a clock he had made which didn’t please him …… it apparently was losing a second a week!

Uncle Johnny was a keen sailor on Strangford Lough and further afield, and a keen golfer at Malone Golf Club.  Apparently as a mark of respect the flag flew at half mast at the Golf Club today.

Today at the service I met up with ALL of my Colville cousins – including my brothers that meant 11 of us, uncles, aunts, and family friends. It is a shame it takes a sad occasion to bring us all together. Uncle Johnny’s 5 grandchildren were also there today, one of who, Sarah, was a flower girl at my wedding.

So there you have it – John Colville – FRCS – husband, father, brother, friend, surgeon, engineer, sailor, golfer, hard working and always strived to find a better way to do things.

Ever practical, he had made all the arrangements for his funeral in a letter dated 2004, and he requested that at the end of the service there would be no hand shaking (he always hated that part of a funeral) and that a 3 page document sharing his faith be available for those in the congregation who would be interested.

He ended it with the following

“I must leave you now and am looking forward to the new life with confidence”

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  1. Sorry to hear about your uncle’s death. He sounds like a fascinating man.

    I really love how he sorted out his funeral years ago 🙂

  2. sorry to hear of his death and sending my condolences. He sounds like a real character and someone who will be very much missed x

  3. Big Hug JM,

    I just lost an Uncle too, just a few short weeks ago. No service for him though, which is really sad. Unlike your Uncle I don’t believe my Uncle gave his heart to the Lord, either. I wish I had closure. Your Uncle’s service sounds so profound,

    I thank you so much for the priveledge of knowing your Uncle, even through this blog post, he certainly made an impact which will be felt for generations.


  4. Sending prayers and thoughts your way – so sorry for your loss – I admire his last wish though – he sounds like a wonderful person !

  5. Thank you for such a well-written account of John’s life.
    I was a trainee plastic surgeon in Belfast 1983 to 1990. I learned a lot from him, and still practised some of his techniques when I was a consultant.
    Nick Hart

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