Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland bride-to-be left devastated as fiance dies after fall during stag do on Greek party island

By Linda Stewart

A Co Antrim woman who was to marry in just a fortnight is in mourning after her fiance died following a fall during his stag do in Greece.

Emily Russ (31) from Carrickfergus flew to Athens to be at the hospital bedside of Ben Davies (32), a Conservative aide in the Welsh Assembly, but he passed away at the weekend.

Mr Davies had travelled to the party island of Mykonos with six friends for the stag week but was left in a coma after suffering a head injury in a fall, and was transferred to intensive care in a hospital in the Greek capital.

East Antrim MLA John Stewart, who had been invited to the wedding in Cardiff later this month, described Mr Davies as a down-to-earth person who took a keen interest in Northern Ireland politics.

"He was a very, very nice guy. He had been over here and I had met him a few times," he said.

"He was highly articulate and intelligent - he was a political operative for the Conservative Party and I think he was also a member.

"He had a lot of questions about Northern Ireland politics and took a lot of interest. He was just a down-to-earth kind of guy, a nice guy.

"He was in a coma when he was transferred to Athens for treatment, but they were not able to revive him. I believe that when they tried to bring him out of the coma they couldn't resuscitate him."

Mr Davies had recently bought his first home in the Welsh capital ahead of his marriage.

During her vigil at his bedside, Emily posted on her Facebook page: "Positivity is the way forward! The boy is a fighter! Probably one of the main reasons why I love him so much!"

A friend of the couple said: "It's heartbreaking, they were meant for each other and were getting married in two weeks' time. It was all arranged, now they are making plans to bring him back for a funeral.

"He was a special man, very bright and funny with a big future ahead of him."

Mr Davies was deputy chief of staff for the Conservative group sitting in the Welsh Assembly.

He had studied history at the London School of Economics before going on to get an MSc in Russian and European Studies at Oxford.

Mr Davies worked as an adviser for the Liberal Democrats in the 2010 general election, helping Duncan Hames get elected as Wiltshire's first Liberal MP in 86 years. He later volunteered for the Conservatives in London before beginning a job with the party in the Welsh Assembly.

Party director Richard Minshull sent an email to Welsh Conservatives confirming his tragic death and paying tribute to him.

Mr Davies's colleague and friend Vincent Bailey said it was always an adventure being around him.

"I don't think any of us know how to cope with this, but my heart breaks for his fiancee Emily," he said.

"Ben was incredibly bright and such a big character - he will be impossible to forget, or replace.

"It's a huge shock because he was a good friend and so young. It's just terribly sad for everyone."

His friend Dex Torricke-Barton, a former speechwriter for Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, was due to be an usher at the wedding but couldn't attend the stag do because of work commitments. He said Ben was looking forward to the wedding as Emily "made him truly happy for the first time".

Cardiff Conservative councillor Jayne Cowan said they campaigned together when she ran as a candidate for the Assembly.

"He was so bright and he had this fascinating sense of humour. You remembered when you're in his presence even if there's 10 other people there. He was special," she said.

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