Obituary: Tribute to Carrick Methodist Church stalwart

Derek Scoffield.   INNT 18-480-RM
Derek Scoffield. INNT 18-480-RM

Carrickfergus Methodist Church was at capacity for a service of thanksgiving for the life of Derek Scoffield on Tuesday, December 8, 2015.

Mr Scoffield died on December 5 after a courageous battle with cancer. He was 72.

A stalwart of Carrickfergus Methodist since first attending Sunday School as a four-year-old, Derek was a key member of the team that helped bring about the state-of-the-art buildings into which hundreds of mourners, drawn from the congregation and wider community, gathered to say farewell on Tuesday, December 8.

Colleagues from his 30-year career in the electricity industry joined representatives of the legal, medical and teaching professions - the paths chosen by his children - at the Albert Road location to remember a man who was devoted to his wife Eileen, family and church.

Leading the service, Rev David Clements, of Carrickfergus Methodist Church, shared a poignant moment from Derek’s battle with illness when at one stage he asked to pray for each of his eight grandchildren. Rev Clements said this dedication to God’s word was an example for all to follow.

Originally from Yorkshire, the Scoffield family moved to Northern Ireland when Derek’s father took up a post at the Courtaulds plant in the town around 1947-48.

A former pupil of Carrickfergus Model Primary School and Belfast Royal Academical Institution, Derek graduated in electrical engineering from Queen’s University Belfast in 1966.

A chartered engineer and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical Engineering, he was, as Rev Clements quipped, something of a “bright spark”.

His commitment to his profession saw him start with the Electrical Board for Northern Ireland and continue with the organisation through its various guises including as NIE and Power NI.

In his earlier days he was a keen athlete and played rugby for Carrickfergus. His enthusiasm for sport remained, later taking up golf and bowls.

Following early retirement in 1996, Rev Clements noted, Derek dedicated even more time to his family and church.

His contribution to the latter included roles as Sunday School teacher, Boys’ Brigade Bible Class teacher and lay preacher.

He found time too, Rev Clements added, for involvement with Christian Endeavour, Youth for Christ, Mission Carrickfergus and Christian Caravaners Club.

Mr Scoffield also took on the senior lay post of Carrickfergus Circuit Steward. Over a 10-year period he was a member of the team which steered through the new church building project. This included everything from fundraising to overseeing the demolition of the old church and its replacement with the current premises.

He was an important figure in the background too when Carrickfergus had the honour of hosting the Methodist Church in Ireland’s annual conference in 2013, which drew several thousand visitors to the town.

In his concluding remarks, Rev Clements emphasised that Derek had a particular talent for “working well with people” and they remembered him for that.

The service of thanksgiving was preceded by a private committal at Victoria Cemetery. Mr Scoffield is survived by his wife Eileen, daughters Julie and Alison and son David.