Community saddened by the loss of ‘Big Paddy’

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He was one of a kind, a big man, with a big heart and he made friends wherever he went.

Paddy Patterson lost a two year battle with prostate cancer when he passed away with his family at his bedside in the Macmillan Unit, Ant rim Area Hospital, on Sunday, April 10. He was 61.

Paddy Patterson, back row, third from right, pictured in the Brookvale side, managed by Fred Crawford in the 1980s.

Paddy Patterson, back row, third from right, pictured in the Brookvale side, managed by Fred Crawford in the 1980s.

Although christened Christopher John, everyone knew him as ‘Big Paddy’ around Coleraine and he had a lifelong love of football, particularly Coleraine Football Club and Northern Ireland.

Friends came from France, London, Bristol, Kent and the Republic of Ireland to his funeral which was held in Killowen Parish Church last Tuesday afternoon. And that in itself was a fitting tribute to the big man who lived his life to the full, loved to laugh and spend time with his family and was the life and soul of the party with his rapier wit and humour.

Paddy had been diagnosed with cancer in May 2014 and before he came home in February this year had been receiving treatment in North Middlesex Hospital.

For the past 28 years he lived in Harringay, north London, working in the London Underground, but the only son of the late Vera and Billy Patterson, grew up in the Heights at 1 Drumard Drive in Coleraine.

He went to Irish Society Primary School as a child - and his love of football was even apparent then. In fact during one homework assignment he wrote that ‘My Favourite Sport is Fatball’ - a spelling error which he was never allowed to forget when he was gently teased by his mum Vera. He spent his childhood years kicking football in the street but also joined the Cubs and loved camping with his sisters and friends at the nearby Bog Lane at Hazelbank with chocolate biscuits for supper.

After attending Coleraine Boys’ Secondary School (‘The Intermediate’) he initially trained to be an electrician in Maydown before going on to work in Dairy Produce Packers and then for the DoE with Enterprise Ulster.

His sister Joan fondly recalls going on their bikes fishing to the River Bann and the Agivey and it was on one such trip that Paddy gained fame.

“He was about 12 when he caught a big salmon on the Bann,” remembered Joan. “It was so big it couldn’t fit in our fridge. The writer Speedy Moore came and took a picture of him and it featured on the back of one of Speedy’s books - so Paddy was famous for a week!”

However when it came to sport nothing came close to football. As a young man he laced up his boots for junior teams Parkview, Brookvale, Ibrox, Aghadowey and the Cheese Factory in the Works League. He was a fanatical Coleraine FC supporter and when the Bannsiders played Tottenham Hotspur in the European Cup Winners Cup in September 1982 Paddy drove a mini bus with 12 supporters all the way from Coleraine to White Hart Lane in London for the second leg which the visitors lost 4-0.

He also followed Northern Ireland to Poland, Spain and France as well as joining the Green and White Army in the stands of Windsor Park in Belfast.

Paddy, in fact, grew up supporting Leeds but when he moved to north London he became a naturalised Arsenal fan. However any time Coleraine made it to an Irish Cup semi-final or final Paddy flew home, renewing old friendships and donning his blue-and-white scarf.

He became the ‘go-to person’ for tickets for Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea matches and his kindness to strangers was legendary. On one occasion he gave away two tickets to a match when he saw the son of a Dungannon man crying in a bar in London because he had been let down for the game.

Paddy would have done anyone a good turn and it was this selflessness and generosity, as well as his infectious sense of humour that made him many, many friends.

His sister Joan also tells the story of how Paddy, sick with his cancer treatment, even tried to coerce his consultant doctor, Dr Carp, an Arsenal supporter, to go to a match with him. “Sure come with me,” Paddy cajoled him. “I have two tickets in my wallet.”

His family and friends have many happy memories of a big and generous character.

For the past 15 years he went on a family holiday to Lanzarote and each Christmas he came home to take everyone out for a Christmas meal. A short service for Paddy was held at Joan’s house in the Rope Walk last Tuesday, with Rev Billy Holmes officiating at the service in Killowen Church. Afterwards Paddy was laid to rest in Coleraine Cemetery

Many tales - fond and funny - were shared in the Maconachie Hall afterwards and the family have been overwhelmed by the many calls of support they have received and the dozens of cards and flowers shared by all who knew him. Paddy was the much loved father of Jason, Colin, Richard and Chris, dearly loved brother of Ann, Maureen, Joan and Wendy.

Rest in peace, big man.