ACROSS Fermanagh those who knew the late Stephen Cairns have been sharing stories of his kindness and community-spirited nature, following his sad passing last Thursday.
Originally from Belfast, Mr Cairns had been living in Fermanagh for a lifetime, and made a strong impact on the local community. Devoted husband to Ann (née McQuaid), and father to Adam and Keith, he was well known across the county for both his volunteer work, and his love of bridge.
Outside his job as health and safety officer, Mr Cairns leant his time to tackling loneliness by helping others in the community make connections, including though the ‘One Friend’ group. He also helped promote cross-community and cross-border relations in various aspects of life.
This included when indulging his passion for bridge.Both he and Ann have been long standing and accomplished members of the Fermanagh bridge fraternity, and Mr Cairns – who credited his wife teaching him all he knew – was well known across Ireland for both his card skills and welcoming nature.
A touching tribute by fob.ie, the main website for bridge results from across Ireland, summed up what many have been saying of the Enniskillen man in recent days.
“As well as being a brilliant player, Stephen had that rare quality of being able to make his opponents feel very welcomed and relaxed at his table – one of the nicest if not ‘the nicest’ men to ever grace a bridge table,” said a spokesman for fob.ie.
“He and his equally lovely wife Ann were great supporters of bridge congresses in all four corners of the country. We will all miss his friendly affable charm and his constant good humour.
“Stephen was an avid promoter of bridge, especially in Fermanagh, and played an integral part in fostering excellent North-South working relations.”
Mr Cairns has been described as “a true gentleman who was always in good humour” in the many tributes and messages of condolence this week, with many locals also commenting on how he was always humble and kind.
Former Alliance candidate Matthew Beaumont was among those to pay tribute to Mr Cairns, recalling how he had been the first person to sign his first election nomination papers, back in 2019.
Mr Beaumont said Mr Cairns was “an important person to society,” who “clearly cared.”
“He was a person who did things for the right reasons,” he said, adding “he was a very good person, and Ann is one of the loveliest people.”
Mr Cairns left his family home on Sunday evening and was brought to Ballycassidy House Funeral Home, where friends and neighbours had the chance to say their goodbyes. Cremation followed in Belfast.
He is survived by wife Ann, sons Adam (Britte) and Keith (Alison) and grandchildren Matthew, Niamh, Anna, Lucie, Charlie, Sophie and Jack.
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