by JENNY MONROE
A LISBURN man found dead on Christmas Eve has been finally laid to rest after funeral arrangements were only put into place weeks after his death.
Samuel James Harmon, (inset) known affectionately as Sammy 'Sidewinder', 62, was discovered in his Maralin Avenue home in the city during one of the coldest winters for years. Since then his remains have been lying in a mortuary waiting for funeral arrangements to be sorted.
With no known relatives it was left to friends to rally round to try and give him a fitting burial.
Originally it was thought that Lisburn City Council would have to step in to provide a Public Funeral but a spokesperson for the Council said this had not been necessary.
On Wednesday morning a well attended funeral service took place at Ronnie
Church, and Mr. Harmon was laid to rest at Blaris New Cemetery. A friend of Mr Harmon said that enough money had been found from his estate to cover the expenses. Friends say they had been trying to contact relatives of Mr. Harmon, who attended Derriaghy Day Centre.
A spokesman for Ronnie Thompson Funeral Directors said the company was only "too glad to step in to give Mr. Harman a Christian burial".
Rev. Fred Greenfield, who conducted the funeral service, went to St. Simon's primary school on the Donegall Road with Mr Harmon whom he fondly remembers as a "joker". Mr Greenfield said that he bumped into Mr Harmon every now and again in Lisburn and would always enjoy a good chat with him and encourage him to come along to Church. "He would always call me 'big lad' - and I would talk to him about my family. He did like to talk about spiritual things." Mr Greenfield added: "I was glad to conduct the service for Jim as I knew him - I used to joke with him that he had so many nicknames he could be an international spy."
Local pub the Tuesday Bell, where Mr Harmon was a regular, have been holding a collection to raise money towards a headstone. To date around £300 has been raised.
Heather Johnston, Duty Manager of the Tuesday Bell who attended the funeral service said: "He was a regular customer and a real gentleman. We all loved and respected him. We were his family."