Belfast Telegraph

Probe into death of estate foreman as he felled a tree

By Claire Weir

A man has died following an accident involving machinery on a country estate.

Keith Willis, foreman of Caledon Estate on Armagh Road in Co Tyrone, was killed in an incident just before lunchtime yesterday as he was cutting down a tree.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive confirmed that it is investigating the death.

Mr Willis, who was in his 50s, was a father to two teenage girls.

He was popular in the area and was well known for giving visitors guided tours of the estate grounds and buildings and for helping organise charity events.

In 1990 his brother, RUC officer Joshua Cyril Willis (35), was killed alongside two of his police colleagues and a nun in an IRA landmine attack on the Killylea Road outside Armagh, close to Navan Fort.

The officers, based in Caledon, were in an unmarked police car, while Sister Catherine Dunne was in a car going in the opposite direction when the explosion went off, leaving a crater 30ft wide and 20ft deep.

UUP leader Tom Elliott said Mr Willis's death would leave a "great void" for members of his family.

"Whilst at this stage it is unclear how the accident occurred I wish to express my sympathies to his wife, children and family circle," he said.

"I am only too aware of the high esteem that Keith was held in by the entire community in Caledon.

"His passing will leave a great void for everyone who knew him.

"This was a person who was a great family man and was always willing to help others. He will be sorely missed by everyone."

DUP councillor Sammy Brush said that the people of the village would rally around the dead man's family.

"This is a very close knit area, a small place and the estate is at the heart of it," he said.

"It is awful that a hard working, honest, well-known man should go out to work in the morning and not come home.

"I know the family and I am thunderstruck to hear of this death. It is just heartbreaking and all the thoughts of the people of Caledon will go out to this man's loved ones."

Factfile

The accident happened at the 5,000 acre Caledon Estate in Co Tyrone. The estate was bought from the seventh Earl of Cork for £94,400 in 1776 by James Alexander. The Earls of Cork and Orrery had only acquired the estate by marriage from the Hamilton family in 1738.

The main house is still inhabited by the current Lord Caledon, the Lord Lieutenant of Co Armagh, who re-married three years ago in a private wedding ceremony in Chelsea.

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