Air ambulance doctor tribute sought
The greatest tribute to a Northern Ireland motorcycle racing doctor who died in a crash would be to name an air ambulance after him, his funeral was told.
Dr John Hinds was fatally injured while providing medical cover at a Skerries 100 practice session in Dublin last Friday, and died in hospital the following day.
He was a strong supporter of the use of helicopters to speed the injured to hospital.
Funeral Mass was held at St Patrick's Church in Portaferry, Co Down, and his partner Janet Acheson said he would own her heart forever.
Ambulance medics carried his coffin from the church.
Fellow racing doctor Fred MacSorley said his colleague's Delta 7 call sign pager was deactivated by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) on Tuesday and should be inherited by an air ambulance.
"I would hope with the dedication and help of people around that in the years to come the call sign Delta Seven would be heard as it had been cleared to land in the heliport at the top of the Royal Victoria Hospital," he said.
Mourners who packed the country church applauded.
Dr Hinds, 35, from Tandragee, Co Armagh, worked as a consultant anaesthetist at Craigavon Area Hospital.
He was nicknamed one of the "flying doctors" of Irish motorcycle racing for the lifesaving support he provided during high speed bike races including the North West 200.
Dr Hinds was a strong advocate for a regional air ambulance and met Stormont health minister Simon Hamilton to discuss the issue.
His family has vowed to continue the campaign for a doctor-led helicopter emergency medical service and have urged members of the public to sign a petition in his memory.
He was described by family as a man who preferred to seek forgiveness than ask permission, an independently-spirited person who died on American Independence Day, July 4, a bikers' "guardian angel".
Father Michael Hinds said: "It was that brilliant mind together with his skilled medical hands that perpetuated life for so many others, that did so much good without seeking reward or praise in return."
Dr MacSorley said he grew used to becoming a second opinion because Dr Hinds was usually at an accident scene first.
"You would see a pair of feet sticking out from under the wreckage ... he was quite extraordinary," he said.
Dr McSorley said Dr Hinds was a natural teacher, his treatment of more junior medics wonderful, he continued.
"In time, hopefully we will be able to proceed towards his dream of improving the trauma service in Northern Ireland and a helicopter becoming an integral part of that revised service."
A statement from Ms Acheson was read out during the funeral.
It read: "There has been much made of his age (those 35 years) but as John himself used to say to me, with his infectious sense of humour, 'age doesn't matter unless you're a cheese'."
She described her partner as, "'my quiet man' who will own my heart forever. He radiated grace from the heart and peace from the soul."
Mr Hinds was buried in the adjoining cemetery.