| 7.2°C Belfast

2020 in review: 20 people Northern Ireland said goodbye to from John Hume and Stephen Clements to Harry Gregg and Roma Tomelty

Mark Bain takes a look back at some of the people who we lost in 2020 ... from the worlds of sport, entertainment and politics to aristocracy, the legal profession, the church and campaigning for peace

Close

Brian Black

Brian Black

Brian Black

Bishop James Mehaffey

Former Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry and Raphoe

January 6, aged 88

One of the first high-profile deaths of the year was that of the former Church of Ireland Bishop Dr James Mehaffey.

Dr Mehaffey led the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe for more than 20 years, from his consecration in September 1980 until his retirement in January 2002.

He officiated at funerals of many parishioners killed in the Troubles.

Dr Mehaffey, who was born near Portadown, developed a close friendship with the late Catholic Bishop of Derry, Dr Edward Daly.

Close

James Mehaffey

James Mehaffey

James Mehaffey

Stephen Clements

Radio/TV presenter

January 6, aged 47

Stephen Clements, who died tragically in early January, became one of the most listened to DJs as Q Radio breakfast show host for seven years.

In June 2019, Mr Clements announced that he was leaving the station to join BBC Northern Ireland, and he took over Radio Ulster's mid-morning programme from veteran presenter Sean Coyle that September.

On January 6 he signed off his Radio Ulster show, telling listeners he would "see them again tomorrow at around the same time," but it sadly never happened.

Close

Stephen Clements

Stephen Clements

Stephen Clements

Seamus Mallon

Politician

January 24, aged 83

Former deputy First Minister and one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, Seamus Mallon died at the age of 83.

The former SDLP deputy leader served alongside First Minister David Trimble in the Stormont Executive from 1998 to 2001. He was also MP for Newry and Armagh from 1986 to 2005.

He stepped away from the SDLP leadership in 2001, and did not contest his Assembly or Westminster seat.

Close

Seamus Mallon

Seamus Mallon

Seamus Mallon

Harry Gregg

Former Northern Ireland and Manchester United footballer

February 17, aged 87

Harry Gregg, the former Manchester United goalkeeper who was the reluctant hero of the 1958 Munich air disaster, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family in Coleraine in February, aged 87. Gregg was the world's most expensive goalkeeper when he joined Manchester United in December 1957 for £23,500.

He bravely rescued his team-mates and other passengers following the plane crash in which 23 people were killed in February 1958.

Awarded an OBE in the 2019 New Year Honours for services to football, Gregg founded the Harry Gregg Foundation in 2015.

Close

Harry Gregg

Harry Gregg

Harry Gregg

Barney Eastwood

Boxing manager/promoter

March 9, aged 87

Known to friends and family as "BJ", Eastwood, who lived in Holywood, Co Down but was born in Cookstown, Co Tyrone, made his name as a bookie, building up a large chain of shops across Northern Ireland.

He died in the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald after a period of illness aged 87.

Despite his success in bookmaking, Eastwood was best known for his work as a boxing promoter and manager, particularly his association with world champion fighter Barry McGuigan.

Close

Barney Eastwood

Barney Eastwood

Barney Eastwood

Betty Williams

Peace campaigner

March 17, aged 76

Belfast woman Betty Williams, instrumental in the early days of the Peace People in 1976 along with Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Ciaran McKeown, died aged 76. She was described as one of the "great founder members" of the organisation.

Both Ms Williams and Ms Corrigan Maguire were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.

Ms Williams left the Peace People in 1980 and later emigrated to America, returning to Ireland in 2004.

Close

Betty Williams

Betty Williams

Betty Williams

BJ Hogg

Actor

April 20, aged 65

William Henry Brian Hogg, better known by his stage name BJ Hogg, brought smiles to many with his portrayal of 'Big Mervyn' the lovably-dim leather-clad loyalist in Give My Head Peace.

He passed away on his 65th birthday in April.

He also played the title role in the Oscar-nominated short film Dance Lexie Dance and appeared in Game of Thrones.

Close

BJ Hogg

BJ Hogg

BJ Hogg

Roma Tomelty

Actress

April 22, aged 75

Renowned actress Roma Tomelty passed away peacefully at the age of 75 after falling ill at her north Belfast home

Ms Tomelty, from Co Down, appeared in films including Miss Conception and Your Highness and the television series The Frankenstein Chronicles.

She and her husband, the theatre director Colin Carnegie, founded Belfast performing arts school Centre Stage Drama in 1986.

Her most recent television work saw her appear in season eight of HBO's Game of Thrones.

Close

Roma Tomelty

Roma Tomelty

Roma Tomelty

Bobby Storey

Convicted IRA leader

June 21, aged 64

Senior republican Bobby Storey died in England following a period of illness.

The north Belfast man was considered the head of intelligence of the IRA for a period from the mid-1990s.

Security sources linked him to several major incidents, including the £26m Northern Bank robbery in 2004.

Mr Storey, who was 64, spent more than 20 years in jail.

Close

Bobby Storey

Bobby Storey

Bobby Storey

Lord Brian Hutton

Former Lord Chief Justice

July 14, aged 89

High profile law lord and former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland Baron Brian Hutton died aged 89. Once top of the IRA's most wanted list, he was born in north Belfast in 1931.

Serving as Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland from 1988 until 1997, he played a pivotal role in many Troubles cases.

Despite his prominence in the judiciary in Northern Ireland, he is perhaps best known for his 2004 report - The Hutton Inquiry - into the death of government scientist David Kelly the previous year.

Close

Lord Brian Hutton

Lord Brian Hutton

Lord Brian Hutton

John Hume

Politician

August 3, aged 83

The Nobel Peace Prize winner died in a nursing home aged 83 following a long period of illness.

One of the highest-profile politicians in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years, he helped create the climate that brought an end to the Troubles.

He was a founding member of the SDLP in 1970 and led the party from 1979 until 2001.

Widely admired for his steadfast commitment to peaceful, democratic politics, Mr Hume's passing drew tributes from around the world, led by former US President Bill Clinton.

Close

John Hume

John Hume

John Hume

Brian Black

Presenter

August 4, aged 77

Brian Black died after his car plunged into the water at Strangford harbour in August.

He has been a familiar face on television screens for several decades.

After working for RTE, Mr Black began his UTV career in 1982, where he spent over 20 years reporting news and presenting the current affairs programme, Counterpoint.

He also made several environmental programmes including Hidden Heritage and Bog on the Brink.

Sam McBratney

Author

September 18, aged 77

Belfast-born author Sam McBratney, who wrote the classic children's bedtime story Guess How Much I Love You, died in September.

His 1994 picture book, which ends with the phrase "I love you right up to the moon - and back", sold more than 50m copies and has been translated into 57 languages worldwide.

In all he wrote over 50 books for children.

Close

Sam McBratney

Sam McBratney

Sam McBratney

David Cook

Politician

September 19, aged 76

One of the founding members of the Alliance Party and the first non-unionist mayor of Belfast since partition, David Cook died after contracting Covid-19.

Mr Cook, who was 76, battled the virus for several weeks before passing away peacefully at Craigavon Area Hospital.

He also served in the Northern Ireland Assembly from 1982 until 1986 and was deputy leader of the Alliance Party from 1980 to 1984.

Close

David Cook

David Cook

David Cook

Derek Mahon

Poet

October 1, aged 79

Born in Belfast in 1941, Mr Mahon lived in Kinsale in later years.

Widely regarded as one of the most talented and innovative Irish poets of the late 20th century, he was best known for illuminating ordinary aspects of daily life through his skilfully crafted verse.

He subsequently lived and worked across the United States and Canada before moving to London to become a journalist.

He published many collections of poems across a career that spanned 50 years.

Close

Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon

Chris Ryder

Journalist

October 2, aged 73

Journalist and author Chris Ryder, who previously worked for the Belfast Telegraph, died in October aged 73.

Mr Ryder, who had also worked on a regular basis for the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph before retiring, wrote several books on security and the Troubles.

A Carryduff resident, he had served as a member of the Police Authority between 1994 and 1996.

He also wrote about the history of the security forces in Northern Ireland, including The RUC 1922-2000: A Force Under Fire.

Other books he wrote included The Fateful Split: Catholics and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Close

Chris Ryder

Chris Ryder

Chris Ryder

Helen Madden

Presenter

November 6, aged in her 70s

Much-loved TV star Helen Madden, better known as Miss Helen in the children's 1960s and 70s show Romper Room, was in her 70s when she passed away at her Belfast home.

She brought joy to hundreds of children by simply saying their name through a magic mirror in the popular UTV programme.

After her success in Romper Room made her a family favourite, Helen worked for the BBC for several years producing and presenting programmes ranging from documentaries and Woman's Hour to programmes for schools and travelling the length of the country finding stories as presenter of the award-winning Up County programme on BBC Radio Ulster.

Close

Helen Madden

Helen Madden

Helen Madden

Brian Coll

Musician

November 7, aged 79

Irish country music singer Brian Coll, whose career spanned more than half a century, died in November.

The Tyrone legend Coll started his professional career with The Buckaroos in 1968.

One of Coll's most notable achievements was in 1969 when The Buckaroos played to a packed Carnegie Hall in New York on a bill that included country superstar Johnny Cash.

Across nearly 60 years he played with bands that included The Polka Dots and The Plattermen and shunned stardom in the USA to allow his family to remain in Ireland.

Close

Brian Coll

Brian Coll

Brian Coll

Sir Brian Kerr

Former Lord Chief Justice,

December 1, aged 72

Lord Brian Kerr (72) was a former Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, serving in that role between 2004 and 2009, when he was then appointed as the first Northern Ireland Justice to the new UK Supreme Court, when he took the title of Baron Kerr of Tonaghmore.

He had only retired from that role in September.

Originally from Lurgan, Co Armagh, the current Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland Sir Declan Morgan paid tribute saying he had made an "enormous contribution" to the courts in Britain and Northern Ireland.

Close

Sir Brian Kerr

Sir Brian Kerr

Sir Brian Kerr

Eileen Pollock,

Actress,

December 20, aged 73

Best known for her portrayal of Lilo Lill in the BBC comedy series Bread, Belfast-born Eileen Pollock passed away earlier this month.

"Your beauty, laughter and loving eyes gave joy to all," her family said.

Ms Pollock was best known for playing the part of Lilo Lill in the BBC television comedy from 1986 to 1991.

At its peak in 1988 Bread pulled in 21m viewers.

Close

Eileen Pollock

Eileen Pollock

Getty Images

Eileen Pollock


Other famous faces we lost this year ...

Neil Peart: Drummer from Canadian prog-rock trio Rush died in January aged 67 following a battle with brain cancer.

Kobe Bryant: Former basketball superstar (41) was killed in January alongside his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash.

Kirk Douglas: One of the last stars of Hollywood's Golden Age died aged 103 in February.

Caroline Flack: The Love Island host (40) took her own life at her home in Stoke Newington, north-east London in February.

Kenny Rogers: Star behind hits such as Coward Of The County and The Gambler died in March aged 81.

Honor Blackman: Perhaps the most famous Bond girl ever, passed away in April.

Eddie Large: Part of the Little And Large partnership with Syd Little, he died in April after contracting coronavirus while being treated for heart failure.

Little Richard: The rock 'n' roll pioneer, who blazed a trail in popular music that paved the way for the Beatles, David Bowie and many more, died aged 87 in May.

Dame Vera Lynn: The Forces Sweetheart died at the age of 103 in June.

Naya Rivera: Former Glee actress (33) drowned at a Southern California lake while on a boating trip with her four-year-old son in July.

Chadwick Boseman: Best-known for his portrayal of Marvel superhero Black Panther, Chadwick died in August aged 43 after a four-year-battle with colon cancer.

Dame Diana Rigg: Veteran actress, known for her roles in The Avengers, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Game Of Thrones, passed away in September aged 82.

Eddie Van Halen: Lauded as one of the greatest rock music guitarists ever after he died at 65 In October.

Sir Sean Connery: The actor (90) was seen in the eyes of many as the ultimate Bond. Died in October.

Des O'Connor: All-round entertainer (88)whose career and popularity spanned decades, died in November.

Dame Barbara Windsor: The actress (83) who found fame in the 1960s starring in the Carry On films before playing Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, died this month.

Belfast Telegraph


Top Videos



Privacy