St. Macartin's Cathedral
Enniskillen, Northern Ireland
This page on our website we proudly dedicate to the memory of our Honorary Treasurer, who died suddenly on Thursday 28th April 2011. We thank God for the more than fifty years he gave to this very important post as well as for the manner in which the work was done. Norman combined length of service with professional competence and personal dedication to such an extent that he was, in the very best possible way, taken for granted. Over that half century the people who shared with Norman in the affairs of the Parish are undoubtedly those who realise most how much he did and the time he gave to ensure that our finances were correctly and efficiently administered.

In recent years the Select Vestry gave consideration to how best to pay tribute to Norman’s work and decided that it could do nothing better than place a stained glass window in the south aisle of the Cathedral. Norman had previously resisted such plans but persistence won the day so that he, for once in his life, gave in!

On Sunday 20th April 2008, Bishop Michael Jackson dedicated the new window in the presence of a large congregation together with Norman and members of his family.

From left: Canon Brian Coutney (Rector), Stephen Richmond (Churchwarden), Bishop Michael Jackson, Norman Hilliard and George Irvine (Churchwarden). Apologies for the picture quality - it was captured from a low resolution video!

The previous evening, the cathedral hall was packed to capacity with so many parishoners who were there to honour Norman at a special dinner, followed by a concert during which various members delivered speeches and contributed musical and humourous items. During the speeches, Canon Courtney announced that as an additional honour, the Conference Room in the parish hall had been renamed, "The Hilliard Room".
From left: Messrs. Jim Kerr, Norman Hilliard and Sam Morrow
Mr Sam Morrow, Honorary Secretary to the Select Vestry delivered the following speech:

We are gathered this evening to celebrate Norman’s outstanding fifty year’s service to this cathedral and parish. Mr Jim Kerr, the longest serving member of the select vestry next to Norman, will pay tribute to Norman for his work in this parish and for the Church of Ireland generally. In order to appreciate fully Norman’s service to the church you should know that first and foremost Norman is a family man. Furthermore, he serves the wider community in very many ways.

Norman as a family man
Norman was born in Trillick, he attended Kilskeery Church of Ireland Primary School and proceeded from there to that highly respected Enniskillen Technical School. After finishing his schooling in 1947 he gained an apprenticeship with the accountancy firm of Rawlinson, Allen and White which had its offices in Townhall Street. Having gained his apprenticeship qualifications he moved to the Cookstown firm of Harold F. Bell. The following year he returned again to a senior position in Rawlinson, Allen and White. After a further three years with that firm he was appointed in 1956 to the position of accountant with the Fermanagh Health and Welfare Committee.

Soon after this appointment Norman was to take the most important step in his life when he married Alice in 1959. This proved to be a great partnership and led to an extremely happy and fulfilling family life for them both. They had three children, Ross, Alison and Thomas. We are delighted that all three are with us this evening together with two of Norman’s four grandchildren. Ross, Alison and Thomas grew up in a home where there was tremendous parental support and encouragement. After the Model School, Alison attended the Collegiate Grammar school and Ross and Thomas went to Portora. At the same time they participated fully in the organisations associated with St Macartin’s Cathedral. From the Enniskillen schools they gained admission to the top universities in these islands - Ross to Edinburgh, Alison to Oxford and Thomas to both Cambridge and Oxford. All three are now enjoying successful careers - Ross as an engineer, Alison as a journalist and broadcaster and Thomas as a consultant paediatrician.

Sadly the family suffered a severe blow in 2002 with Alice’s untimely death. This was particularly difficult for Norman with the rest of his family living in England. However, Norman, with the full support of his family, has coped with that grave loss in a very positive manner.

Mr Jim Kerr then made the following speech:


We have gathered together to acknowledge and to express our debt of gratitude to one of our fellow parishioners. We have come to pay tribute and to honour the outstanding and unsurpassed service, dedication and commitment of one man. His story is one that has lasted fifty years, half a century, more than a life sentence! The man to whom I refer is, of course, Norman Hilliard.

When I came to the cathedral nearly fifty years ago, Norman was already here “at the receipt of custom” and singing in the choir.

In the mid-1950s the parish had a problem! It had just lost a key officer, an Honorary Treasurer. The problem was, “Where do we find a replacement?”  The then rector, Dean Thomas Clements, a very wise and astute man, had the great ability of looking out for and discovering talent amongst “his flock”.  He made one of his greatest discoveries - a young man who was an expert, a genius with figures! That young man was one T.J.N. Hilliard.

Now, in church circles, when someone does a good job, we have a very special way of rewarding them. We ask them to do it again…and again….and again! Year after year, Norman presented the Parish accounts with such care, diligence, skill and professionalism that he was indeed rewarded…by being entrusted with the books and accounts - for fifty years!

If we could just for a moment turn the clock back 50 years - what was it like then? There was no Cathedral Hall - the ground was then the Rectory garden. The present Rectory garden was the location of the old Parochial Hall. It was built in 1922 and had many deficiencies. In 1960 it was declared unfit for purpose. It had ill-fitting steel windows of the type seen in cowsheds. The floor was of knobbly knotty pine. Its flat roof leaked and it was draughty and hard to heat. A further problem was that it was too small - there wasn’t enough room for the 300 children in the Sunday School. As well as that, indoor bowling was becoming popular, and this old hall was totally inadequate for the needs of the Parish Bowling Club. The momentum towards replacing it with a modern hall increased till it became a priority. A young Scottish architect, Mr Ian Storie, was engaged to draw the plans.

But what about the finance? £45,000 - not easy to find in those days. (Webmaster’s note - not easy to find these days either!)  In today’s terms it would be equal to over £1 million! Then there was talk of Stewardship, a new concept in giving, a plan that would allow us to be sure of a regular financial commitment from every parishioner. Thus in the early sixties the first Stewardship campaign was launched. This gave the Select Vestry the encouragement to step out in faith to build a new hall. Consequently the parish found itself HEAVILY in debt! Norman had the difficult task of managing a deficit account for many years. With his special skill, Norman successfully negotiated a substantial loan at a fixed interest rate of 6% over a 25-year period. This proved to be a tremendous benefit to our parish when shortly afterwards, interest rates soared to three times this amount!

As well as the new hall, other major developments were undertaken:

Caretaker’s house
Curate’s house
Retirement bungalow
Refurbishment of the Rectory
Replacement of the Cathedral heating system
Treatment and elimination of dry and wet rot
Repairs after the Cathedral fire in 1996
Re-roofing of the new hall
Double glazing of the windows
Replacement of flat roofs
Refurbishment of the organ
Repainting of the Cathedral and Hall
Installation of the sound and vision system in the Cathedral

All of these required the management skills of our Honorary Treasurer.

Along with investing his time and energy in serving his parish, Norman was elected as a Diocesan Synodsman and it wasn’t long before his special gifts were put to good use in this respect. He was a valuable member of the Diocesan Finance Committee and was appointed Diocesan Honorary Secretary to the Synod. Further election allowed him to become a representative to the Church’s General Synod.

We meet on a historic and unique occasion - to celebrate fifty years of dedication, commitment and service. Norman was much more than an honorary treasurer. Through his dedication and foresight, this Parish has been saved thousands of pounds. Norman, please accept the gratitude of all your fellow parishioners and may you have many years to enjoy looking at the fine stained glass window erected in your honour in St. Macartin’s Cathedral.

Sadly, this last aspiration was not to be and just over three years later Norman's death saw the end of an era and a very sad loss to the cathedral. His funeral on Monday 2nd May 2011 was extremely well attended, a tribute to the high regard in both church and community in which Norman was held over so many years. The Service was conducted by the Dean, the Very Rev. Kenneth R.J. Hall and the Preacher was the Most Rev. Dr. Michael G.St.A. Jackson, Archbishop of Dublin. There were two readings from scripture:  Rev. Alistair S.J. Warke (Curate) – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and Precentor Brian J. Courtney (Former Rector) – St. John 14:1-7 & 27.
The prayers were led by The Archdeacon, Venerable Cecil T Pringle.
The choir were robed and sang “Let all the world in every corner sing ‘My God and King’.

The text of the Archbishop's sermon was as follows:

Psalm 121.8: The Lord will guard you as you come and go, now and for evermore.

We are now in the glorious season of spring and spring is in this year 2011 above all years a season to delight any gardener. From time to time, my life and work in the diocese of Clogher brought me past the Hilliard homestead. Often I would see Norman out working in the garden he tended carefully and lovingly. Norman and our memories of Norman have brought us here this afternoon to St Macartin’s Cathedral, Enniskillen in a context for which none of us was really prepared but, at the same time, we offer to Norman’s family – Ross, Alison and Thomas – and their families, our heartfelt sympathy at the loss of a father, father-in-law and grandfather. We offer also our thankfulness for all that we have received from that same Norman. Often in this part of the country we talk of people who ‘never changed.’ It is meant as the most sincere of compliments. It is not to suggest that they do not or cannot keep up with the times. It is not to suggest, either, that they do not accept and embrace change – far from it. It is said in the context of their ability to cope creatively with the change which in any case is happening all around them and us – graciously. And it is the word: graciously which is the key to the Norman Hilliard who ‘never changed.’     

Every one of us in entering this Cathedral Church today will have walked past a window which every one of us should pause to enjoy on the way out. It is tucked into the right hand corner of the nave, standing discreetly, just as Norman himself often did in that same area to welcome those coming to worship God in this place and again to greet them on the way out. And this cathedral has a great tradition of welcoming people in ways which are genuine and sustained. The window, now as at its dedication just over three years ago, expresses the thanks of this parochial community to Almighty God for the sustained and generous service which our good friend Norman Hilliard has given to the Church of Ireland in St Macartin’s Cathedral Parish, as Member of the Select Vestry and Parish Treasurer for fifty-three years. Parish life is the heartbeat of the Church of Ireland and Bishop Hannon, in 2001, recognized Norman’s immense parochial contribution by giving him a special award for parochial and diocesan service combined. Norman was also a Parochial Nominator and Diocesan Synodsperson for Enniskillen. In the wider life of Clogher Diocese, Norman was a Member of Diocesan Council and Lay Honorary Secretary as well as serving on the Sustentation and Finance Committee, the Report Committee, the Board of Social responsibility and the Committee on Disputed Elections. He also served on the Board of Governors of Erne Special School and Portora Royal School. Much of this may sound dry and dusty but I would dispute that caricature. Committees need people of compassion and integrity; they need people of broad life experience and with a certain latitude of thought. They need lay people even more than they need clergy precisely because clerical life is so selective, so defined and in many ways confined that all too often clergy find themselves, not so much not knowing what they are talking about, but talking about what they do not know. In each of these diocesan roles, Norman brought the common sense and the common touch which comes from a lifetime of experience where getting your own way is not always easy or desirable; where taking account of something of which you had no experience but which you simply have to do and get right from someone whom you never really knew before is essential and, betimes, humiliating. All of these human skills were part and parcel of the weave of Norman’s approach to life as a child of God and as a member of the Church of Ireland working effectively in the community in that most fraught of areas – healthcare and finance. In the wider Church of Ireland Norman was a Member of the General Synod and of the Episcopal Electoral College for Clogher. In fact he was eagerly anticipating taking part in the Electoral College for a bishop of this diocese in no more than forty-eight hours’ time.

A native of Trillick, Norman was educated at Kilskeery Primary School and Enniskillen Technical College. In fact the Institution of the Reverend Rosemary Logue as rector of Trillick and Kilskeery a month ago was one of the last occasions on which I saw Norman – loyal, as you might expect, to his home parish and still keenly interested in its present and future. Accountancy was his chosen profession. Having trained as an accountant in Enniskillen, Norman’s work in the Health Service began in 1956 and he served with professionalism and distinction until 1990, retiring as Group Administrator for the Fermanagh Unit of the Fermanagh District of the Western Health and Social Services Board. He began this work in the Castle Barracks and moved from there to the Erne Hospital where he remained a figure both of popularity and consistency. Everybody knew Norman and for the best of reasons. This is only my own hunch, but somehow I suspect that working in this capacity he could not but be affected by the suffering, the recovery and the loss of people he knew both from his own parish and from the County Fermanagh of which he has always remained part and which he held in tremendous affection. This gave breadth and depth to his compassion and humanity, his affection and understanding of others. And so, in a particular way, Norman combines aspects of Matthew and Luke – financial management along with care for the sick and those in need of healing. And for this reason it is surely fitting that the window to which once again I draw your attention depicts St Matthew with three purses and St Luke along with the serpent which brings healing. The bronze serpent which was erected by Moses in the desert teaches us the timely and essential lesson that the very source of poison and destruction itself becomes the source of recovery and healing. It is this which gives us the impetus not to lie down under misfortune, illness, adversity or indeed evil itself. The Hilliard window tells us this tale of transformation every time we enter and leave this place.

Not only is Norman’s catalogue of service impressive. It is also entirely voluntary. All of this goodness has been offered back to God through the church by one person in the midst of both a busy working life and an equally busy retirement; in the context of family life with his late wife Alice and three children Ross, Alison and Thomas along with their families; in the context of commitment to other unnumbered community commitments and organizations across County Fermanagh. These include his being Treasurer of the Enniskillen Branch of the Ulster Cancer Foundation, Member of Rotary International in the Enniskillen Club – he was made Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary in 1996 for outstanding service to the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among people of the world. He was also Treasurer of the Fermanagh Unionist Club and a senior member of the Masonic Order in Enniskillen. Norman never sought reward. Norman always spoke wisely. Norman combined shrewdness and kindness, fairness and decision-making. He seemed to know everyone wherever he went. He seemed equally to be loved by all whom he met. This is an extraordinary person of grace and Godly goodness.

Norman always rejoiced in local people, places and situations – and most of all perhaps local connections. Taking the time to make and retain friends was one of his gifts. Carrying on in a measured and positive way after the death of his beloved wife Alice in 2002 was also a tremendous expression of fortitude, stability and self-discipline and a tribute to their long and happy married life together. Rejoicing in the developing careers and lives of his own family and of their families, staying with them and having them to stay with him – all of this gives us the measure of a person who can be part of many generations at many times. Weaving and sustaining relationships were at the heart of Norman. Taking seriously everything to which he set his hand was also at the heart of who he became and who he remained. Like others who came to live in Enniskillen from Trillick and elsewhere in Fermanagh and Tyrone, he made a real go of it and Enniskillen is the better for all of it.

As the Old Testament Lesson tells us, there is a time and a season for everything, for what to our understanding is the tension of opposites: birth and death; seeking and losing; war and peace – and many others. Today’s world somehow wants all of the positives and none of the negatives. But Ecclesiastes tells us that they go hand in hand together and we really have little choice in the matter but to get on with it and finding God somewhere in all of it. St John tells us not only that in the Father’s house are many rooms, or even better perhaps in the King James Version: many mansions. That word: mansions means many different places to stay, to remain, or in a great word of St John’s Gospel: to abide. St John is good on abiding and in times of bereavement such as today we need to hear a great deal about abiding. God abides with us and we in turn are to abide with God. It works both ways because we have the faith to believe in the way, the truth and the life which hold it all together in one golden cascade of the love and presence of God everywhere in the creation. And St John presses us, as latter-day disciples, further even than this. Her says to us: It is because we are now on our own, with all of this faith, hope and love coursing through our veins, with Jesus re-united for eternity with the Father, that we will do even greater things.

Today is a gathering of families: the Hilliard family; the St Macartin’s Parish family; the Clogher Diocesan family; the Fermanagh community family and the earthly and heavenly family of the saints of God. We thank the Hilliard family for sharing Norman with us and pray that as Norman’s memory abides with them, God too will abide in them. We trust to God for rest and peace for Norman and also a happy and convivial life hereafter – with those whom he loves and among friends

St John 14.3: And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and take you to myself, so that where I am, you may be also.
Health Service career
Now back to Norman’s career. With reorganisation of local government in 1973 Norman became finance officer and assistant district administrative officer for the Western Health and Social Services Board in Fermanagh. Four years later he was appointed Group Administrator for the Fermanagh Unit of the Western Health and Social Services Board and served with distinction in that post until his retirement in 1990. A highlight of his career at the hospital was the building and opening of the geriatric unit in 1990. Norman was administrator at the hospital at the time of the Enniskillen bomb and as you know the hospital systems were not found wanting at that time.

Community service
As well as being a heavily committed family man and treasurer of this parish Norman played and continues to play a very full part in community life. He lists the following as his interests: senior member of the Masonic Order in Enniskillen; treasurer of the Enniskillen Branch of the Ulster Cancer Foundation; treasurer of Fermanagh Unionist Club; member of Rotary Club of Enniskillen from 1975. In the Rotary Club he served as chairman of the Community Service Committee and was made a Paul Harris Fellow in 1996. This is quite a rare appointment in that there are relatively few who have earned this honour. The award was for his work in the Club in furthering friendly relations among peoples of the world.

In education Norman served as a governor of the Erne Special School and of Portora Royal School for many years.

He served as High Sheriff of County Fermanagh in 1983 and was appointed a J. P. in 1984.

In addition to his family commitments and deep involvement in community affairs Norman has been treasurer of this cathedral parish for over 50 years and Mr Kerr is going to say something about that.

Mr Norman Hilliard JP
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