Pilgrimage to honour heroic Larne teacher Bobbie Forster

Bobbie Forster.  INLT 04-652-CON
Bobbie Forster. INLT 04-652-CON

A poignant tribute is to be paid to a Larne teacher who tragically lost his life on a school trip almost half-a-century ago.

Bobbie Forster, who was a science teacher at the former St Comgall’s College, died attempting to rescue a youngster who had fallen into the River Shannon.

Both Mr Forster and the boy he was trying to save drowned during the incident, which happened near Drumsna, Co Leitrim on April 11, 1969.

And now, almost 47 years later, a former pupil of the school intends to return to the scene of the tragedy to pay his respects.

David McWilliams, who now lives in Merseyside, said he had been profoundly affected by the incident.

The 61-year-old told the Times: “Although this happened nearly 50 years ago, it has always been in the back of my mind and I have wanted to go back out and pay tribute.

“I plan to visit the Antrim coast this Easter and hope to travel down and lay a bunch of flowers.

Mr Forster is buried at Greenland Cemetery in Larne, and his sister, Michelle Oakes, still lives in the town.

When she heard of David’s plans to honour her brother’s memory, Michelle said: “It really is a lovely gesture after all these years.”

Larne man Liam Kelly, who was a close friend of Mr Forster added: “Bobbie and I used to get the bus to Garron Tower together.

“His death was an awful tragedy. A plaque in his memory was erected in St Comgall’s, and it was placed on Bobbie’s grave after the school closed down.

“It is very touching that this gentleman plans to travel over from England to pay his respects to Bobbie after so many years have passed.”