Ballyclare choir pays tribute to loyal servant

Mr Sam Stewart.
Mr Sam Stewart.

Tributes have been paid to Mr Sam Stewart, a founder member of Ballyclare Male Choir, who passed away on Friday, October 4.

Mr Stewart, who celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year, joined the choir in 1933 at the age of 19. He went on to hold the roles of president, accompanist for 40 years and secretary for 38 years from 1933. A talented baritone, he also succeeded his brother William J as deputy conductor of the choir in 1969.

When he finally put away his music scores in 2003 he’d given the choir 70 years of loyal service.

“Sam, along with his brother Willie John Stewart, Tom Coey and some enthusiastic friends founded the choir in 1933. He gave a lifetime of service to the choir and was an inspiration to members both old and new. He never lost contact with the choir and supported it even in his later years,” said choir chairman, Rev Colin Campbell.

A service of thanksgiving for Mr Stewart’s life took place on Monday, October 7 at Groomsport Presbyterian Church.

The service was conducted by Rev Dr Roger Purce and Rev Wilson Gordon.

Members of Ballyclare Male Choir sang two pieces - ‘Walking with God’ and ‘Gwahoddiad’ (I Hear Thy Welcome Voice) - a fitting farewell to their old friend.

“The presence of so many of the choir at his funeral, along with their conductor Paul Briggs and accompanist Sheelagh Greer, reflected the high esteem in which Sam was held,” Rev Campbell added.

Mr Stewart, a former school teacher and principal, taught at Ballyclare Primary School for 45 years. He and his wife, Sally, who passed away in August 2004, were married for more than 50 years.

Mr Stewart, who is survived by his daughter Maureen, was the only Honorary Life Member of Ballyclare Male Choir.