‘A gentle giant’ who was proud to be British

Philip Capper. Pic by John Kelly
Philip Capper. Pic by John Kelly

A ‘gentle giant’ who was ‘proud to be British’ - that is how Philip Capper, who was killed in a tragic tractor accident, will be remembered.

Originally from Annaghmore, Philip was a passenger in a tractor that crashed on the Back Road in Drumbo last Friday.

Thronged with youth Banbridge Baptist Church was so packed with mourners on Wednesday, many had to listen outside as his funeral service took place.

In tears, Philip’s sister Joanne took to the lectern first, bravely reading a heartfelt poem in memory of her brother. She recalled childhood memories such as picking gooseberries together and firing them at each other and the constant ribbing as they supported opposing teams (Philip was Manchester United while Joanne was Arsenal).

“He was always protective but like all brothers and sisters we had our fisticuffs. I love you and will always remember you. You will always be part of our lives.”

His brother David described Philip as a ‘gentle giant’. “We are already missing him greatly.”

David said Philip was born in Craigavon hospital on May 5, 1989, the second of three children. “He was taught the importance of family from the start. He grew up in Annaghmore and lived there until he was 18 years old.

“He was reared as a farmer’s son and it wasn’t long before his wellies followed in his father’s footsteps.”

Having went to primary school in Annaghmore, he went on to Clounagh Junior High School and then to Portadown College where he studied History, Religion and Politics.

“His favourite time was the bell at the end of the day,” said David.

“He probably chose politics for a good ‘auld’ twist and that the teacher was good craic but he also took pride in his country, that was no secret.”

When Philip was 18 they moved to Lurgan for two years until the family home in Dromore was completed.

He started work in farming and haulage making many friends throughout the years.

“It is our father who will feel this the most. Philip worked incredibly hard and was a great driver. He loved to put the foot down but he was never happier when he had the feet up and an ice-cream in hand.

“His pride and joy was his Audi car which he photographed from every angle and shared on social media,” said David.

But he said his Rottweiler Molly was his most precious pet. He recalled how his parents were against Philip getting a Rottweiler as they were concerned it was regarded as a dangerous dog. Philip bought the pup and it turned out to be the most placid dog.

David said Molly never barked except when Philip came home from work. And he told of the family heartache that Molly has not barked since Philip died, until his car was brought home by his friends.

“He loved the Orange Order and had general pride in being British. He had a flag in his bedroom and the garage as well. He had a great respect for our servicemen.

“He was looking forward to marching on the Twelfth and was a member of Battlehill Pipe Band,” said David who revealed he played the bass drum called Big Bertha.

“He loved playing in Scarva and was looking forward to it this year,” said David, who offered the band the family’s deepest gratitude for their help since Philip’s passing.

“Philip’s heart lay with his family,” said David, adding that his father was the ‘go-to person’ for help and guidance and to share trucker stories while his mother was a great emotional support.

Pastor John Taylor told the packed congregation that it was a tough day for the Capper family. “We cannot imagine their pain.

“This vast crowd is a testament to Philip but also the esteem in which his family is held,” said Pastor Taylor.

He added that the family wanted to pay tribute to the NI Ambulance Service staff and the Royal Victoria Hospital for attending to Philip ‘for doing everything they could to help him’.

They also paid tribute to the PSNI for their assistance and to all those who worked behind the scenes since Philip’s passing.

Philip’s funeral was from his home at Gregorlough Road, Dromore on Wednesday to Banbridge Baptist Church followed by interment at Kernan Cemetery in Portadown.