27/11/2009

Fermanagh Couple's Death Mourned

The tragic Co Fermanagh couple found dead earlier this week had planned their deaths a long time ago, their son has revealed.

Bill and Ann Barbour - who met during the Second World War when Ann Borrell worked at Bletchley Park, the famous code-breaking centre and Bill worked at the Foreign Office in London - were married in 1948.

They came to Enniskillen in 1951 when Mr Barbour was appointed Classics master at Portora Royal School.

Bill, a former pupil of Bangor Grammar School and graduate of Trinity College, Dublin where he obtained an Honours degree in Classics, first set up home at Forthill Road, but the couple had since then been living in Old Rossorry.

Yesterday, their son, Dr James Barbour said his father Bill, a former grammar school teacher who was found drowned in an Enniskillen lough (pictured) on Wednesday, had left a note on their back door saying the couple had "lived too long".

Mr Barbour, who was heavily involved with the Royal British Legion and was also a founder member of the Alliance Party in Fermanagh, is thought to have killed his wife, who was suffering from the advanced stages of Alzheimer's disease, and was initially found dead at the couple's Sligo Road home.

"My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 10 years ago. Her own mother died from Alzheimer's and I strongly suspect that my mother would have said to my father a long time ago that if she found that she had this condition he would not allow things to progress beyond a point where her dignity would have been lost," the couple's son told the BBC.

"I suspect she might have made him make a promise. What happened was pre-determined by my mother many years ago. I think that what happened to my father was probably pre-determined some time in advance as well.

"I strongly suspect once his duty was finally done that he had no real further interest in living on without her."

Meanwhile, the post mortem examinations into the deaths of James and Ann Barbour have been carried out. The results revealed that Mrs Barbour died of suffocation.

The Barbours were very well known in Co Fermanagh as they entered into community life in Enniskillen, with Ann supporting Bill in his interest in Enniskillen Cricket Club and the Royal British Legion who even named their town centre sheltered accommodation Barbour Court.

The Editor of the Impartial Reporter newspaper, Denzil McDaniel, was a former pupil of Mr Barbour's and knew the family well.

"He was very much loved by both the boys and his fellow staff alike," the long-serving senior journalist told the BBC today.

"The initial shock of hearing what has happened has given way to great sadness and sympathy.

"Bill was such a lovely man, a gentleman, with a very gentle nature.

"There is great sympathy for the circumstances they found themselves in," he said.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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