Whitehead County Antrim Northern Ireland

Obituary Dr. Harry McGuigan C.B.E

Whitehead Community Association is mourning the sad loss of one of its founders and Trustees.  Dr Harry McGuigan CBE passed away after a short illness on 17 April 2010 at the age of 75.


The Association, which manages Whitehead Community Centre, would like to extend its sympathy to his wife of 50 years, Mildred, and to his children Lorna, Peter, Catherine and Michael.


Harry was born in Belfast in 1935 and was schooled at Inst before starting an apprenticeship at Shorts.  He later took a degree course in engineering at Queen’s University Belfast, graduating with honours in 1961. Upon completing his PhD, Harry took up a career in lecturing and academic management.  This path took him firstly to QUB, then to the University of Aberdeen and Dundee Technical College. Harry became the first Dean of Engineering at the then Ulster College in 1970, which later became the Polytechnic and University of Ulster rising to the post of Pro Vice Chancellor and Provost of the Jordanstown campus of the University of Ulster.

Recognition came in 1996 when he was granted a CBE by the Queen for his contribution to higher education.


Beyond academia Harry’s skills were utilised in many different areas such as Chairman of the Northern Health and Social Service Board in the 1980s and of the United Hospital Trust from 1995 to 2004.  His links with his old school Inst were maintained as he was on the school Board for 20 years.


Harry’s interests were many.  He was a keen golfer and avid cricketer and his knowledge of classical music was almost encyclopaedic.  He served on the Kirk Session of Whitehead Presbyterian Church and supported the Boys Brigade.


My most endearing (and enduring) memory of Harry was in the Whitehead Summer Festival in 2000 when Harry was called upon to umpire a cricket match at the playing grounds.  Even though the wicket and out field were far removed from Lords as could be imagined and the standard of play not up to much, Harry undertook his umpiring role with his usual professionalism, good judgement and understated enthusiasm – a metaphor of the man himself really.


Whitehead Community Association is grateful for Harry’s 40 years of support and wise counsel especially in recent years during the redevelopment when he interceded several times to help us overcome problems.  He will be sorely missed but we can be thankful for his substantial and lasting contribution to Whitehead.


By Paul Abraham, past Chairman, WCA