The 60-year-old DUP politician, who died on Sunday, November 5, after a long battle with cancer, was also a prominent member of the Loyal Orders and a director of Carrick Rangers Football Club.
Crowds lined the route on High Street as the funeral cortege made it way to the Town Hall for a celebration of Mr Hilditch’s life, which was led by his long-term friend, Pastor Drew Hamill of Victoria Evangelical Hall.
In his address, Pastor Hamill alluded to the host of organisations which had benefitted from David’s influence, including the Friends of the 36th Ulster Division Carrickfergus, which took part in a guard of honour at the Antrim Street building.
Many of his interest groups were represented in a packed Jubilee Hall while others gathered outside in tribute to their late colleague and friend.
Earlier brethren had led a procession from Woodburn Orange Hall with which the Hilditch family had a long association.
David and his sons, Michael and the late Stuart, were members of Woodburn Ebenezer LOL 787.
One of his initiatives in recent years had been encouraging the formation of new and the renewal of existing junior lodges with grandson Jack taking his place among the ranks at Woodburn.
Pastor Hamill told mourners that while it was a very sad occasion, there was much to celebrate in David William Hilditch’s life.
He drew laughter when he told mourners that a man so synonymous with Carrickfergus was born further along the coast in Larne on July 23, 1963.
David attended Woodburn Primary School and then Carrickfergus Grammar School.
His working career included a period as a roofer “which he enjoyed” and then as a Royal Mail worker, “earning a bravery award” for his role in thwarting a robbery in 1997.
Seated in the hall was retired sorting office colleague and former DUP councillor Terry Clements, another lifelong friend.
There was further levity when Pastor Hamill referred to them as Carrick’s own “Chuckle Brothers”, who were participants in the annual King William Landing pageant in the town.
However it was in politics Mr Hilditch made his mark, devoting over 32 years to public service as both councillor, including two periods as Mayor of Carrickfergus and then MLA.
Senior figures from the DUP including party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, chairman Lord Morrow and East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson were present as were colleagues from around the province. Indeed, as pastor Hamill noted, there were representatives from across the political spectrum in attendance.
Officers and staff from the legacy Carrickfergus Borough Council and Mid and East Antrim Borough Council also turned out to pay their respects.
Pastor Hamill highlighted David’s passion for sport, mainly football, rugby and cricket, and also recalled that before committing to Carrick Rangers, he had been a Glentoran FC fan.
A promising football career as a youth was cut short by a knee injury.
And recently David managed to injure himself again whilst retrieving a ball from the undergrowth in a car park across the road from Carrick’s Taylor’s Avenue ground.
It was, the pastor suggested, further proof of his dedication to Carrick Rangers, where he had served as director, treasurer and safety officer.
Away from politics, sport and the public gaze, there were many acts of charity, Pastor Hamill revealed.
He recalled, for example, David working to ensure vulnerable members of the community received meals during the Covid pandemic and again at Christmas.
David Hilditch was the father of Michael and the late Stuart; father-in-law of Julie-Ann; grandfather of Megan, Paige and Jack and brother of Joan and Jim. In a short address Megan painted an affectionate portrait of her late grandfather.
And there a was personal tribute from David’s successor at the Assembly, Cheryl Brownlee MLA.
Cheryl, who worked in David’s constituency office.
She said: “He always supported me, encouraged me and I can honestly say without him I would not be where I am today.
"He was such a huge part of my life, my children’s lives and there will be a huge void that will never be replaced or forgotten.
"The outpouring of love at the news of his passing is testament to the legacy he has left.”
After the service, Orange brethren lined the route at Joymount as the funeral procession made its way in November sunshine to Marine Highway and on to Victoria Cemetery for interment.