Pastor Drew Hamill told mourners that “David is safe today – safe in a wonderful place where there’s no more cancer, no more sickness”.
He spoke of having talked to Mr Hilditch in his final days, and said that the former MLA “was confident in his Saviour who’d saved him, and was going to take him home”.
David William Hilditch was known to many as Davy.
He died aged 60 on Sunday at the Macmillan Unit in Antrim Area Hospital with family by his side after a battle with cancer.
Carrickfergus town centre was at a virtual standstill as a guard of honour including fellow Orangemen and bandsmen lined the streets yesterday as his coffin – draped in a Union Flag and Ulster Banner, and accompanied for a time by two Lambeg drummers – was conveyed to the town hall where the service was conducted.
The pallbearers included DUP peers Rev Willie McCrea and Nigel Dodds, and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Jim Allister were present among the mourners.
Pastor Hamill, of Victoria Evangelical Hall in the town, led the roughly-hour-long service, which included the hymns ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus’.
Pastor Hamill said that, unusually, Mr Hilditch had been a member of two Orange lodges: Woodburn Ebenezer LOL787 in Carrick, and Stormont LOL2015.
He told the News Letter: “I knew David as a friend from BB days growing up in Carrick.
“He started work as a roofer, then as a postman, and was awarded a bravery award for foiling a robbery at the local post office before entering politics …
“He was an honest hard-working councillor, passionate for the people of the town.
“He joined our church in 2016 and was faithful and helpful in many ways, providing assistance for the needy, delivering hot meals during Covid, and out on Christmas day dressing as Santa.
“He was a very close friend, and a great friend to many in the town.”
Mr Hilditch had two children, Michael and Stuart, and was grandfather to Megan, Paige and Jack.
His name first appears in electoral records in 1989, when it is listed as having stood unsuccessfully as a Protestant Unionist in the Carrick council election.
In the next election, 1993, he stood for the DUP and won a seat, then did so again in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2011, consistently being the top-voted unionist in Carrick.
He was deputy mayor of the town once, and its mayor twice.
During much of that time he was also an MLA having first won a seat in 1998. He then fought another five successful assembly elections after that.
He stepped down as an MLA just under two months before his death.
Carrick Rangers FC – where he had served variously as its secretary, treasurer, chairman, and safety officer – described him as a “tireless worker” and a “pillar of the club”.
His final resting place is Victoria Cemetery, Carrick.