Belfast Telegraph

Family tribute to tragic 'meningitis' student

By Lesley-Anne Henry

A student from Northern Ireland who died of suspected meningitis in England has been described as a “quiet and considerate” young man “who never made a fuss”.

Christopher McKee (21) from Co Antrim was found dead by university friends in a flat in Sunderland on March 26.

The sports journalism student’s body was returned to his devastated parents Anna and Samuel McKee in Ballymena last night.

In a statement, his family said Christopher had dreamt of becoming a sports reporter.

“He had such an encyclopedic knowledge of sport and everyone used to joke that he would be the next Jackie Fullerton, the famous Northern Ireland television journalist, when he headed off to university,” they said.

“He was a huge Manchester United and Rangers fan and loved playing football socially.

“We are still struggling to find the words to describe how we feel at this time, but we are all absolutely devastated and shocked by the news of our son's death.

“He had a huge respect for people of all ages and had a wonderful Christian upbringing.

“He was exceptionally close to us and his brother Leslie (27) and sister Lynsay (24) — throughout their lives they never had a falling out. We will always be very proud of Christopher and what he had achieved throughout his life.”

The grieving parents said they have been “comforted and overwhelmed by the support from our family and friends in our local community in Ballymena”.

It is understood Christopher’s college pals are being offered antibiotics as a precaution.

Neil Farrington, lecturer in BA Sports Journalism at the university, said: “Our thoughts are with his family.

“We are devastated for them and for his friends.

“Chris was very well-liked and a pleasure to work with. He had a remarkable maturity for a first-year student.

“He was a big Northern Ireland fan. He was also a Rangers fan and there were a few Celtic supporters in class who enjoyed some good banter with Chris.”

A University of Sunderland spokesperson said: “We have been informed that the meningococcal infection may have been involved in Christopher McKee's death.

“We are all deeply saddened by Christopher's death and have been offering our support to his family, friends and fellow students.”

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