Poignant final journey for Jerry

Jerry O'Brien (back row on the left) pictured dressed in his porter uniform at Tipton St Johns railw

Jerry O'Brien (back row on the left) pictured dressed in his porter uniform at Tipton St Johns railway station in May 1957. - Credit: Archant

The British Rail worker recently passed away after succumbing to an illness.

As tributes continued to arrive at the Honiton home of a retired railwayman, who died recently, a sorrowful train journey was undertaken by his daughter.

With the deepest respect for a beloved family man, wonderful friend and popular character with over 30 years’ service with British Rail, Jeremiah O’Brien’s ashes were brought home from Whimple train station to Honiton.

Jeremiah, known affectionately as Jerry, began his rail service at Tipton St John in the shunting yard.

He soon worked up to porter duties, transferring to Sidmouth Junction (Feniton) before securing a position at Honiton railway station where he was later promoted to senior rail foreman.


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During Jerry’s working life, he met thousands of people, and was always helpful and courteous, even when the trains were running late and he would make cups of tea for anxious passengers.

His daughter, Ann Collingridge, said: “My father loved working on the railways and always travelled by train when him and mum went on holiday or went to Exeter shopping for the day.

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“I felt that bringing him home on the train was a fitting tribute, although very tearful at times.”

The arrival of his ashes at Honiton railway station was also a poignant reminder of how Jerry’s new life in Honiton had begun. He was born in Aghada, a fishing village east of Cork in Ireland on April 25, 1923.

His father Timothy was working for the Ministry of Defence at Dunkeswell Airfield when Jerry first arrived at Honiton station.

A friendly young man, in his 20s, with a wonderful smile, Jerry soon made new friends and met his beloved Doreen, who he later married at the Church of the Holy Family in September 1956.

Jerry O’Brien died in his sleep on Monday, September 9, at Gittisham Hill House Nursing Home after an illness fought with dignity and strength.

His funeral service took place on Monday, September 23.

Jerry’s family wish to acknowledge all the kind messages and cards of condolence.

A big thank you is also extended to Dr Sarah Evans, neighbours and in particular John and Jean Norman, all the staff at Gittisham Hill House, the Fathers at St Rita’s Centre and to Penny Shoobridge and family.

Donations in Jerry’s memory to Prostate Cancer UK are still being accepted c/o Shoobridge Funeral Services, Park House, Silver Street, Honiton, EX14 1QJ.

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