Shock and sadness in Ballymoney following death of Dalriada School principal Tom Skelton

Ballymoney and the surrounding area has been stunned by the news of the death of Dalriada School principal, Tom Skelton.
Tom Skelton. Credit Peter O'Hara PhotographyTom Skelton. Credit Peter O'Hara Photography
Tom Skelton. Credit Peter O'Hara Photography

Mr Skelton, who was well known in education and rugby circles throughout Northern Ireland, passed away suddenly but peacefully at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine on Thursday, February 8.

DJM Robinson & Son of Cloughmills posted: “Skelton February 8th 2024 suddenly (but peacefully) at the Causeway Hospital, Thomas James dearly loved husband of Wilma, 38 Lisboy Road, Ballymoney, much loved Dad of Thomas Jnr., Andrew, Emma and Alice, very dear brother of June and the late Robert and Heather and a dear brother-in-law and uncle.

"Funeral Service at 3.00pm on Sunday in First Kilraughts Presbyterian Church, burial afterwards in the adjoining graveyard. Donations in lieu of flowers, if desired, to Chest, Heart & Stroke c/o DJM Robinson & Son, 121 Culcrum Road, Cloughmills, BT44 9DT. Lovingly Remembered. "The Lord is my Shepherd".”

Dalriada School released a statement this morning describing his “energetic enthusiasm, approachable attitude and sense of humour”.

“It is with profound regret and sadness that we announce the passing of our esteemed Headmaster, colleague and friend Mr Tom Skelton,” the school said. “Our thoughts and prayers are now with his family."

In a post on social media, Ballymoney Rugby Club said: “It is with deep shock and great sadness that the committee and members of Ballymoney Rugby Club learned of the passing of their esteemed member and Trustee - Tom (Toss) Skelton.

"Toss was a past Captain of the club on five occasions. He commenced his rugby career at Dalriada and went on to play for Ulster Juniors as well as his beloved home club where he played over 750 games. As well as his distinguished playing career, he held the position of Club Chairman.

"His love of sport and in particular rugby was well known. He co-ordinated the rugby development committee at Ballymoney RFC for both the youth and adult sections for many years.

"He will be sadly missed as he has given a lifetime of service to Ballymoney RFC and we pass on our sincerest sympathies to his wife Wilma, sons Thomas and Andrew, daughters Emma and Alice and to his sister June.”

Ballymoney UUP councillor Darryl Wilson said: "We can only reflect on the profound impact Principal Skelton had on shaping the learning environment at Dalriada Grammar School. The passing of Tom is a tremendous loss for our entire community. His unwavering commitment to education and his compassionate leadership will be remembered by all who had the privilege of knowing him.”

TUV leader Jim Allister also paid tribute to Mr Skelton saying: "I am deeply saddened and shocked by the sudden passing of the wonderful Headmaster of Dalriada Grammar School, Tom Skelton.

"Tom Skelton led his school with vigour and vision. He fought tenaciously in the interest of every child, as I witnessed at first hand in appearing alongside him on a number of occasions at the Special Circumstances Panel of the Department of Education, as we strove to secure admission for deserving cases.

"He has left an indelible mark in Ballymoney and will be greatly missed and mourned by this and past generations of pupils and parents. I extend deepest sympathy to his wife and children."