Family and friends mourn as leading figure in flute band scene dies at age 39
There has been shock and sadness in the loyalist bands fraternity after the death of a respected member.
Eddie McCarter (39), a founding member of the Caw Flute Band in Londonderry, died suddenly on New Year's Day at his home in the city.
His funeral will be held tomorrow, when his fellow band members will form a guard of honour and play during a service at his house.
Mr McCarter was a well-known figure in the band scene in Derry.
Hundreds of messages of sympathy and condolences have been received, which have been deeply appreciated by his grief-stricken wife Gwen, son Christopher, bandmates and friends.
Mrs McCarter said she had drawn comfort from these and the realisation that her husband was so liked and respected.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs McCarter said: "This has without doubt been the toughest time of our lives and I don't know how we will cope without Eddie.
"He was the centre of our world.
"We were all members of the Caw Flute Band, which Eddie set up in 2011.
"I was going to leave the band but I've changed my mind.
"It will be a way of remembering him.
"Eddie lived for us and the band.
"He was so proud of it, and I think without a doubt one of the proudest moments for him was when the band led the parade that marked the start of the Foyle Cup football tournament in 2012.
"This meant that the band led the parade down Shipquay Street and across the Peace Bridge - two things that no other band in this city has done before or since.
"The band also played during the Fleadh, and that was Eddie to a tee - he was all about the music, nothing else.
"Away from the band, Eddie was all for his family.
"He idolised Christopher and Christopher worshipped his father and looked up to him so much.
"We have been amazed this week at the sheer volume of messages we have received from people from all over Northern Ireland, but also from beyond Northern Ireland.
"I was aware of how much people who knew him admired and respected him, but I have been overwhelmed by how many people knew him.
"There have been hundreds and hundreds of sympathy messages, and every one of them has been a comfort to us."
As the family get ready for Mr McCarter's funeral tomorrow, preparations by his fellow band members are also under way.
Chairman of the Caw Flute Band Allister Gault said it will be a difficult day for everyone involved.
He said: "Eddie was a giant of man both in size and personality, and his boots will be hard to replace.
"The sheer sense of loss that we feel is hard to put into words.
"We will say goodbye to Eddie when we play Absent Friends before we make our way to Ballyoan Cemetery."