logoLieutenant Commander Henry George Clendinning


H G Clendinning
Lt. Commander Harry Clendinning RNVR, taken circa 1953 in the cockpit of a
Fairey ‘Firefly’ during his time in the Royal Naval Reserve 1830 Air Squadron.

Lieutenant Commander Henry George Clendinning, formerly of Mahon House, Portadown and latterly of Hartford Place, The Mall, Armagh, passed away recently after a short illness. He was 87-years-old. A former High Sherriff for County Armagh, Harry Clendinning was born in Richhill, educated at Portadown College and Queen's University Belfast where he studied civil engineering.

The Second World War interrupted his studies and Harry volunteered to join the Naval Fleet Air Arm where he was sent to Kingston Ontario to train as a pilot. He flew a variety of single and twin engined aeroplanes in his career, sometimes off aircraft carriers. Later in the war he was chosen to be Lady Mountbatten's pilot on a number of occasions. His brother Jack recalled how he flew his plane low over the family home at Ballyleany, Richhill and looped the loop three times before flying off into the sunset leaving his family breathless.

On the death of his father in 1946, Harry returned to Richhill and joined Jack in the family furniture business, Clendinning Bros Richhill where he was Sales Director until his retirement in 1982.

He continued to fly with the Scottish Air Division until 1957 during which time he met his wife Joan Slaney. Harry had flown with the Squadron to Malta where Joan was working for four years as a Radar Wren in air traffic control. They married in Scotland before returning to set up home at Mahon House in Portadown.

Harry Clendinning had a fruitful career as a pilot and featured in the book Murricane's Men, flying in Canada and Europe and taking part in the Queen's Coronation where he flew in formation over Windsor.

He played rugby for Portadown College and was a member of the town's first fifteen rugby squad. As a member of the scouts under Cyril Abraham they cycled around France and also included a trip to Lord's cricket ground. His love of swimming began when he learned to swim with scouts in the old canal at Knock Bridge, Portadown and continued swimming in the local pools in Portadown and Armagh until recently. Harry made many friends at swimming where he to thought nothing of doing 30 lengths a day even after he survived a major stroke 20 years ago.

     rugby    H G CLENDINNING
H. G. Clendinning (back row, left) 1937-38 PC Rugby Team

Harry continued to sail twice a week at Lough Neagh Sailing Club where he was a founder member and three times past Commodore. He was a Rectors Church Warden both in St Mark's Portadown and St Mark's Armagh. Over the years at Mahon House he enjoyed working in his garden and tending to his orchard in which he took great pride. In Armagh he continued gardening and played an active role in the local community. Harry was also a keen artist painting local scenery in oils and watercolours.

Harry was Vice President of the British Legion and in recent years took the salute at Remembrance Day parades in Armagh and at the Sixtieth Anniversary Parade in Tandragee.

Harry continued his sport of sailing and racing well into his eighties spending many happy years on Lough Neagh. A devoted helmsman he loved to win and taught his sons Mark and Anthony to sail from early childhood. Harry was happy when his sons won the Morrow's Point trophy after Christmas on Lough Neagh and the Rathlin Island trophy and was ecstatic when his late grandson Harry junior sailed from the Azores as a crewman aged only 14.

In Tarbet Harry was runner-up in his Rover series class in 1995 and was class winner and points winner in West Highland Week in 1996. He was delighted to receive the prize for oldest skipper and collected this award at many regattas. At a race in Enniskillen with Anthony and Harry junior he was awarded the oldest crewman prize while young Harry took the prize as youngest crewman.

There was never a dull moment around Harry Clendinning, who had an infectious sense of humour and took a keen interest in current affairs never missing his daily walk across the Mall in Armagh each morning to collect his papers. He was proud of his brother Max the international furniture designer and architect whose 'Life in Design' exhibition was held at the Ulster Museum and whose 34 sketches are in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Harry followed Max's career since the sixties with zeal and was proud of a recent feature in the New York Times and the launch of a new book featuring Max in France.

Harry was equally pleased when his only daughter Susan took a teaching post close to him at the Armstrong Primary School and followed the activities of all his grandchildren with great pride encouraging them all in sport and studies.

The funeral took place in St Mark's Parish Church Armagh conducted by Canon John McKegney and the Dean of Kildare. Readings were given by Harry's son in law Brett Hannam and grand daughter Kim Clendinning. Tributes were paid by Anthony and Mark Clendinning. He is survived by his wife Joan, sons Anthony and Mark, daughter Susan, brothers Jack and Max; sister in law Kathleen and neice Anne; daughters in law Anne and Ruth; son in law Brett and grandchildren Kim, Lucy, Robyn, Joel, Claudia, Weston, Emily and Charlotte.