GERRY Higgins- a stalwart of Naomh Gall GAC in West Belfast and a gentleman to all.

The 68 year-old passed passed away on May 17 at the Somerton NI Hospice following a brave battle with dementia and Covid-19.

Born in 1952, Gerry grew up in Dunlewey Street, off the Falls Road with his four sisters, Monica and Pat and the late Betty and Agnes. He was educated at St Gall’s Primary School and St Thomas’ Secondary School.

In his working life, Gerry was a quantity surveyor for leading construction firm Farrans for over 40 years. He was involved in some of the major local building projects including the Odyssey Arena.

Gerry met the love of his life, Olivia in 1967 before they got married in 1973. He became the much-loved father to Gareth, Lisa and Paul and proud grandfather of eight- Eabha, Oisin, Cian, Dylan, Noah, Tina, Lucy and Sophie.

Gerry’s other love in life was sport- an avid football and GAA man.

Gerry had trials with Coventry City FC in 1969 before playing Irish League football in the 1970s and 80s for Larne, Distillery and Glenavon. He also played for the Sky Blues in the UEFA Cup against Belgium club Standard Liege in 1979.

In GAA, Gerry captained and managed Antrim and was a player and manager for his beloved Naomh Gall in West Belfast.

He was an exceptional player for both club and county and went on to coach teams at all levels, including his own son Paul at one stage.

In the 1990s, he coached the Antrim senior team, together with manager PJ O’Hare.

In his later years, he continued to serve Naomh Gall as the club’s Development Officer and Vice Chairman. His sister, Monica Culbert is also the current Club Chair.

He also brought Naomh Gall into his family, with both sons, Paul and Gareth playing for the club up until minor level and daughter, Lisa representing the Ladies side.

In a statement, Naomh Gall said it was with “great sadness” to learn of the death of “esteemed member” Gerry Higgins.

“He was a Club man, a family man, a gentleman to all, and a true ambassador for Naomh Gall.

“We offer our deepest sympathies to his wife Olivia, children Gareth, Lisa and Paul and their families; his sister Monica, our Club Chair, and to the entire Higgins and Culbert families at this most difficult time. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.”

The Higgins family would like to thank the residential unit staff of Brooklands Care Home, Mater Hospital Ward D and especially NI Hospice who cared for him with compassion and dignity.

Our Lady Queen of the Gael pray for him.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.