THE vintage fraternity were out in force at Cairncastle Presbyterian Church on Sunday to honour one of their own, at the Service of Thanksgiving for the life of Stephen Hamilton Robinson, who died last week at the tender age of 21.
And it was the biggest funeral Cairncastle had ever seen – the church and two halls packed to capacity, and there were still some standing outside.
Steve Robinson Jr was a familiar face to so many at vintage rallies and road runs, bringing a smile to the face of everyone who met him. If he wasn’t holding up his thumb, he was waving you over for some banter – and any chance he got, up he went on stage, along with his good friend Philip Strange.
As Philip explained: “We have shared so many stages over the country. I knew Stephen personally for his love of country music. He was a devoted lover of YouTube; myself and others recorded and downloaded music to send him. Once in particular when he was poorly in Leicester, the recording of myself started his finger tapping, the sound of that music, and with a strong faith, he turned towards the road to recovery.
“There are many here today who meant a lot to Steve; the things they did, the way they did it. There are representatives of vintage circles here from all over Ireland, and further afield. Steve had a love for vintage tractors, rallies, road runs, and country music. One special road run in particular would have been in March 2016, his 18th birthday, in which the proceeds went to Roddensvale School.
“Steven junior was a character, he was well known. It wasn’t uncommon for me and Steve to be sitting around a fire with an accordion until the early hours of the morning at a vintage rally. It was social events that made the bond between Steve and me so strong. It’s a privilege to be here today, to pay a tribute to a young man, and bring happiness to his life in recent years.”
The Rev Ian Carton went back to his early years, recalling: “Steve was born with Down Syndrome, but it certainly never held him back. He had little speech, but he used Makaton and Social Media in his teenage years to keep in touch with family and friends. Although he had little speech, he always knew what was going on around him.
“He attended Roddensvale School in Larne from the age of three, and it was here he met many dear friends, not only the pupils but the staff as well.
“Steve was dearly loved by his family; he loved family life, especially a celebration. He was proud to be part of his family, proud to be part of this community.
“He was one of those young men for while it has been a tragically short life, it has been a life well lived. A life lived to the full; a life full of joy, where he liked to be the one bringing the joy. Steve never had a shy moment in his life; he was getting on doing things other people would have been too embarrassed to do. He was out there living, not a bit worried, not a moment’s reticence. If someone needed cared for, he was good to be there.
“He was a remarkable blessing. Someone who can take the life that they’re given, such as it is, and make it a lesson on living for the rest of us, deserves to be celebrated, remembered and have a legacy that follows him.”
The Robinson family would like to thank everyone for their prayers, support and friendship, not just after Steve’s passing, but over the years as well, especially during his illness. Also all those who looked after Steve, in particular the nursing staff, the doctors, the professionals in Antrim Area Hospital and further afield.
After the service at Cairncastle, Steve Robinson Jr was interred at Glenarm New Cemetery, and fittingly, on route was a line of vintage tractors, the first one showing his trademark ‘thumbs up’ sign.
We’re all the better off because we have known Steven Robinson junior and we should be grateful for that. He loved the tractors, the rallies, the country music – and getting his photo in the paper, especially with that infectious smile. But for his devoted family, and all those vintage rallies and road runs, things will never be quite the same again.