He was known to many as ‘Mr Scarva’ and it is to the picturesque village that John Hanna, who died in a tragic road accident on Monday, will return for the final time this afternoon.
The former Banbridge District Ulster Unionist councillor, who devoted 22 years as an exemplary public servant, died on the Ballinalea Road in Ballintoy.
He had been driving a tractor when the single vehicle accident occurred shortly before 4pm.
Mr Hanna lived with his wife, Councillor Joan Baird, in the County Antrim coastal village.
This morning, (Friday), at 11.30am, a private service will take place at the home the couple shared in Ballintoy.
Mr Hanna’s funeral cortege will then make its way to Scarva, where a service of thanksgiving will take place at 3pm in St Matthew’s Parish Church. He will be laid to rest in the adjoining churchyard.
Many of the deceased’s political colleagues will join with mourners to say their farewells to a man held in the highest regard within the local community.
Tributes had been paid by the Ulster Unionist Party’s Upper Bann association following the death of Mr Hanna.
Upper Bann MLA Jo-Anne Dobson said: “John was a good and decent public servant who represented the people of Banbridge District, and especially his beloved Scarva, as a proud and loyal Ulster Unionist councillor over many decades.
“I spent last Thursday evening in John’s company with the members of RBP 1000 at the launch of the Royal 13th at Scarva and know that he was, as always, looking forward to taking part in this year’s event.
“While John is no longer with us his long legacy of public service will live on. As a community in Banbridge we will miss him dearly.
“I send my sincere sympathies to John’s wife Joan and his entire family circle at this incredibly sad time.”
Fellow Upper Bann MLA Sam Gardiner added: “John was an exceptional public servant who worked night and day for the benefit of his constituents.
“In a career stretching over two decades he made a massive contribution to the area of Banbridge and its residents. My deepest sympathies go to John’s wife, wider family circle and friends at this most difficult time.”
Desmond Kerr, Chairman of the Upper Bann Ulster Unionist Party Association, said: “John was a loyal, long serving and dedicated local councillor in the Banbridge area up until his retirement at the end of March this year.
“John recently had the pleasure of accompanying his wife, Joan, to Buckingham Palace where she received her OBE. We know John was very proud of Joan’s achievements and this was a highlight for both of them.
“Despite retiring from frontline politics, John remained active within the party and the community and had so much to offer in the years that lay ahead of him.
“We extend our heartfelt sympathy to Joan and the wider family circle at this tragic time, and trust that they will find the strength to face the days that lie ahead.”
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