Belfast Telegraph

Fans, charities and colleagues stunned after death of Stephen Clements announced on radio

Stephen Clements
Stephen Clements
Stephen Clements and his brother Gavin
BBC Presenter Stephen Clements with Alison Clarke presenting from The Open in July 2019. Pic Kevin McAuley/McAuley Multimedia
Stephen Clements presenting Children in Need
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

Political leaders, presenters, listeners and charities have expressed their shock and sadness following the sudden and tragic death of BBC NI broadcaster Stephen Clements.

The passing of the 47-year-old married dad-of-two was announced yesterday.

The presenter is survived by his wife Natasha and their two children Poppy and Robbie.

He began his full-time broadcasting career at City Beat, which became Q Radio in 2010, and joined BBC Radio Ulster in September, replacing Sean Coyle in the mid-morning slot.

The news was broken on the BBC Radio Ulster 1pm bulletin during the Talkback programme.

Speaking after the bulletin, Mark Carruthers, who was presenting Talkback said: "We have had some very sad breaking news within the past few moments.

"Sad for his colleagues here at the BBC and of course his family and friends."

Throughout the day, listeners flooded the station with messages of sympathy and condolence.

BBC Northern Ireland director Peter Johnston paid tribute to the broadcaster as someone with "creative flair" who brought "a sense of mischievous fun to our airwaves".

"Stephen was a talented and versatile presenter who was much loved by his colleagues and listeners," Mr Johnston said.

"He brought creative flair and a sense of mischievous fun to our airwaves and he had already become an established part of the BBC family."

During his brief time with the BBC, the Carrickfergus man presented the television series Open for Summer during the Open Golf Championship in Portrush last July.

He also co-hosted BBC Northern Ireland's Children in Need programme last November with Holly Hamilton.

On Monday he signed off his Radio Ulster show as normal, telling listeners he would "see them again tomorrow at around the same time," but he was not on air on yesterday morning.

Instead, presenter Stephen Rainey stood in for him.

On Monday night Stephen posted a photograph montage of various pictures of him with his family.

The broadcaster's brother Gavin (right) said he was "broken" as he paid tribute to Stephen, describing him as "my inspiration, my hero, my brother".

In a statement, he said: "We are devastated to lose Stephen, who was deeply loved by his family and friends.

"We would ask for time to come to terms with this news and for privacy at this difficult time."

DUP leader Arlene Foster was among those who paid tribute to Clements' "incredible talent".

"Stephen was somebody who I admired greatly. I just want to remember his wife and his beautiful little children in my prayers and I hope that everyone will reflect and remember them tonight," she said.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill added: "His radio shows on BBC Radio Ulster and Q Radio brought his legion of listeners joy through his music and humour."

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long tweeted: "His warmth and humour shone through his work.

"A really lovely person and a huge loss".

Broadcaster Eamonn Holmes said the presenter would be missed.

"I'll miss you, your listeners will miss you," he tweeted.

"A lesson for us all to live life because we don't know how long it will last. Sad, sad times. How can you be gone?"

BBC presenter Stephen Nolan also took to Twitter to express his sadness, describing Clements as a "kind, decent human being with so much natural talent".

Having turned Q Radio's breakfast show into one of the most popular programmes in the region, Clements landed what he described as his "dream" job at the BBC last year.

Q Radio said it had been "overwhelmed" by the volume of people getting in touch to share their sadness.

"His humour, generosity, compassion and ability to put people at ease... he will be missed by all of us more than words can say," a statement added.

James Pllu, former programme controller at Belfast's Citybeat, worked with Stephen for a number of years.

"He was such a massive personality on the station. Everybody had so much affection for him and listeners adored him. I loved going to work every day with Stephen," he told the BBC's Evening Extra last night.

Presenter Holly Hamilton said Mr Clements was "one of the good guys."

Posting on Twitter, she added: "Struggling to find the right words...but I'll try. Stephen you were one of the good guys. A wee bundle of positivity with the biggest smile and never a bad word to say about anyone.

"I don't think you ever knew just how much joy you brought people and what impact you had on anyone who met you.

"I hope in some way your family can find strength from knowing how much you are loved.

"It was an honour to have known you. Rest in peace."

Q Radio presenter Ibe Sesay said that when he began broadcasting, Clements took him under his wing.

"The love that the listeners had for Stephen was quite remarkable," he added.

"He embraced the Northern Irish humour through and through.

"That, I think, was the main aspect that so many thousands of people loved about Stephen.

"He's going to be missed immensely by all of us here, not only in this radio station but throughout Northern Irish radio. (He is) gone, but he'll never ever be forgotten."

Charities which Mr Clements had worked with also expressed their sadness at his passing.

Catherine Nuttall, head of fundraising for NSPCC Northern Ireland, said he had been a "much-loved ambassador".

Autism NI, of which he was a patron, described him as "a great supporter for autism across Northern Ireland.

The Mary Peters Trust tweeted: "We are so sad to hear about the loss of Stephen Clements, who was a great supporter of the trust. Love and thoughts with his family."

Carrick Rangers Football Club also paid tribute and said he would be "sorely missed".

"Stephen grew up in the Victoria area of the town and was well known to many people involved in Carrick Rangers, being both a supporter and a friend of the club," it added.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact the Samaritans on 084 5790 9090, or Lifeline 080 8808 800

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