THE local vintage fraternity were out in force on Saturday to pay respects to one of their own, Andrew James (Jim) Harkin, who passed away last week, aged 83.
Speaking at James’s funeral at First Broughshane Presbyterian Church, James’s daughter Hazel Edgar said: “We travelled many many miles to see tractors, steam engines, cars, motor bikes and lorries. We didn’t go any place where Dad didn’t know someone. He always said he wanted me to take my son Stuart to as many vintage events as I did with him.
“I remember many times going to the McKibben brothers, Dad grew up beside them. They were Dad’s cousins, but he never called them cousins, he always talked about ‘the brothers’. Many times we were at vintage events; he would have looked at something and said “that would have been better in the scrap yard, especially at McKibben’s.”
James Harkin was a founding member of the Braid Valley Vintage Enthusiasts Ltd, and served as secretary since the formation of the club just over 30 years ago. Hazel added: “Dad told me I was never to forget the Braid Valley Vintage Enthusiasts, and help them the way I did when he was alive. That I will do, if they let me. I promised him I would attend the events as well. He said that when he was gone, many people will help me and support me when attending events. I’m sure there are many people here today who will be behind me in doing this, just to make him happy.
“Dad was always behind me all the time, whatever I tried. I remember the time I talked about raising money for Friends of Cancer in memory of Mum. He was the first to sponsor me; he helped me conquer my fear of the sea and the sand.
“He wasn’t only my Dad; he was my first love, my best friend and my soul mate. No-one ever would have changed him, as he was my hero. I’m lost without my soul mate, but I hope I can make my Mum and Dad proud. I’m super proud of being his daughter.
“There are also people here today who have travelled far to come and join us as a family and say our last goodbye to this amazing man. My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me. I hope I can make my Mum and Dad proud of me; I hope to be half the lady my Mother was, and half the person my amazing Daddy was.”
Andrew James (Jim) Harkin was born in Ballymena in November 1937, as the only child of Andrew and Agnes. He attended Lisnamurrican School and then moved on to the Diamond School. He spent most of his working life (42 years) at Stevenson’s, who had their own tribute, with two lorries outside the church.
James met Martha at a dance in Cromkill Orange Hall; they got married in Kells in 1962. They spent many happy years together before Martha sadly passed away exactly 13 months earlier on September 20, 2020.
While James had his health problems in the past, he was still very much out and about attending vintage events. For instance, he was in fine form at the Braid Valley’s annual Tractor Road Run just last month, where he was collecting sponsorship for his daughter Hazel’s sponsored dip.
On October 10, however, he took suddenly unwell. He passed away last Wednesday in hospital with daughter Hazel and granddaughter Shannon by his side.
Rev Ronnie Agnew officiated at the service in First Broughshane Presbyterian Church.
James was the loving husband of the late Martha (Mattie), the beloved father of Andrew, Nigel, Hazel and the late Geoffrey; father-in-law of Helen, grandfather of Charlene, Shannon, Samuel and Stuart and great grandfather of Curtis.
After the service at First Broughshane Presbyterian Church, he was laid to rest at Ballymena Cemetery.
James’ daughter Hazel expressed thanks to everyone for their support in giving her father the send off he deserved, with a special word for Graham Smyth who made the long journey up from Ardee, County Louth.