Monday, September 7, 2009

Tributes paid to top engineer and much-loved musician

AN engineer who was at the top of his field, and was well known in the local Irish music scene, has died after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ivor Cunningham, who worked at Boscombe Down, died at home with his family at his bedside on August 19, aged 66.

He was born in Northern Ireland and moved to England at the age of 15 to become an apprentice electrical engineer at Plymouth Dockyards.

He moved his family to West Harnham in 1977 and started working for the Department of Environment at Wilton UKLF, Boscombe Down, Bulford, Larkhill and Tidworth military camps.

He was a highly respected engineer who designed the electrical layout and blueprints of the lighting runway systems at Boscombe Down and Port Stanley in the Falkland Isles. When attached to the Army/RAF he held the ranks of colonel and squadron leader respectively.

He officially retired in 1992 but worked as a consultant for Total Maintenance Services in Salisbury and volunteered for Age Concern as a handyman. Known as the ‘Sweetie Man’, he found great satisfaction in helping others.

He finally retired to El Mojon, Spain in 2004 and became known as ‘The Duty Engineer’, always on call and available to lend his expertise.

Mr Cunningham was well known on the Irish music circuit as a founder member of CBS – so named from the members’ surnames, Ivor Cunningham, Denis Barry and Finbar Sheehan – who organised Irish bands from Ireland to play in Salisbury.

He played the Bodhran drum and enjoyed taking part in a sessions with other musicians but was too modest to perform as part of a band.

His daughter Julia Burton said: “He became a mentor to many and a father figure to many, some for a season and some throughout his whole life. It’s hard to begin to imagine the gap in our lives he has left.”

A remembrance event will be held at the White Horse, Quidhampton, on Saturday September 19 at 8pm, and is open to all who knew him. Clive Cunningham, his youngest brother, will lead an Irish music tribute.

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