RANDALSTOWN was deeply saddened last week by news of the death of Lady Moyra Campbell.
A well known face in the bustling town over the years, her warmth and charisma preceded her everywhere she went.
A cherished wife to Commander Peter Campbell and devoted mother to her two sons, Rory and Michael, she was much loved both within and outside the familial home.
Born Lady Moyra Kathleen Hamilton on July 22, 1930, she was the daughter of James Edward Hamilton, fourth Duke of Abercorn and Lady Mary Katherine Crichton.
She married Commander Peter Colin Drummond Campbell-Grove, son of Major General Sir Alexander Douglas Campbell and Patience Loveday Carlyon, on November, 12 1966.
Arguably one of Randalstown’s most decorated citizens, Lady Campbell was one of just six maids of honour who walked up the aisle of Westminster Abbey behind the soon-to-be Queen Elizabeth II more than 60 years ago.
Speaking in 2012, she recalled the wonderful memories attached to the exquisite Norman Hartnell gown, her beautiful long white gloves and the glittering tiara she wore - souvenirs she still retained from a day that stood out in her life-time.
Even six decades on from that historical coronation, she could still feel the atmosphere from the day.
But this privileged youth was very much in contrast to the wife and mother who felt herself to be very much a ‘Magheralane woman’.
Speaking to the Guardian ahead of his mother’s funeral, Rory Campbell told of the inspirational and wonderful woman he and the rest of the family knew and loved.
With an unrivalled character and genuine warmth, Lady Campbell was well known in Randalstown for her beaming smile as she chatted with everyone she passed while out doing her shopping, usually in her wax jacket and welly boots with a wicker basket in hand.
“She just adored Randalstown,” Rory said.
“She was free to talk with everyone, all her friends in the town.
“I can even remember as children it being almost embarrasing.
“You were hoping ‘don’t talk to anyone else’.
“For us, she really was an inspiration.
“When you look at that time, the early seventies, she introduced us to people from both sides of the community and helped us realise from a young age that we are all the same.
“Those sort of apparent distinctions made no difference to her at all.
“It has been heartwarming to see the impact she had on others too.
“The resultant outpouring shows that and while Covid means we can’t really welcome people in to the home, the phone hasn’t stopped.”
Lady Campbell missed out on going to university and while her family always felt this was truly a missed opportunity given her passion for painting, Rory recognises the freedom it gave her to pursue other interests and this led to her involvement with three charities - the NSPCC, Early Years and the Cancer Fund for Children.
In her support for these exceptionally worthy causes, she travelled all over, making friends in all corners as she did everything in her power to further their interests.
“I can remember coming back from London about 15 or 16 years ago and I came into the living room and it was full of people,” Rory laughed.
“These were people from all over the world and they had travelled to Belfast for a conference and of course, my mother had them all home for tea.
“In all her efforts, she had the backing of my father.
“He was the systematic one and I suppose he kept her feet on the ground so to speak but they were quite the double act.
“They were married for 54 years and it was actually Buckingham Palace where they met.
“My mother was known for being one of Her Majesty’s ladies in waiting but my father was Equerry to the Queen too, that’s how they met and I suppose, in a way, he went on to play that role to my mother too.
“They loved each other very much.
“At a time, my father was very ill and my mother was driving to the hospital to see him every day.
“My mother battled Alzheimer’s before her death and was cared for in the Somme Nursing Home in Belfast and -pre-Covid - my father drove to visit her every day or was driven there by some wonderful friends.
“Not only was she was a devoted wife, but a wonderful mother and grandmother.
“As a child, I can remember her having these crazes for people in history, Richard III and so on.
“We would have been taken to all kinds of places to learn all about them.
“I think it’s fitting then, that her gown from the Coronation which is still in good condition, is something that we hope to donate to the Ulster Museum.
“It’s not just a piece of history, but a piece of design history and we’re all about design here so it should be shared with everyone.”
Lady Moyra Campbell is survived by her husband, Commander Peter Campbell; sons, Rory and Michael and grandchildren Martha, Paddy, Taise, Finn, Chitty and Molly.
“She was a Magheralane woman, a local girl at heart and that really was quite the achievement after her childhood,” Rory added.
“If she was here, I know what she would say.
“She would say that she was grateful for being able to live in the way that she did and for her involvement with the charities.”
Lady Campbell was a great supporter of the Royal British Legion and the Randalstown Branch have paid their own respects to their esteemed friend.
Speaking on behalf of the Branch, Chairman Willie Simpson said: “When Randalstown Royal British Legion welcomed Commander Campbell as President, we really got the greatest gift of all in Lady Moyra.
“She has been the truest of friends to the Branch over the years and was loved and respected by all.
“The community will be a much sadder place without her.
“We were very lucky as a Branch, a town and a whole community to be blessed with people like Lady Moyra and Dr John Stewart who is also sadly no longer with us.
“They were both smashing examples of just how people could be.”