Belfast Telegraph

Hunt tragedy rider Claire Lowe was due to marry blind equestrian star Doug

Claire's shock death a double blow after loss of our dad, reveals brother

By Allan Preston

The family of a popular Co Down equestrian boss and police officer who died in a shock horseriding accident have said she "will be missed by hundreds."

Claire Lowe (39) died suddenly on Wednesday afternoon after falling from her horse on a hunting trip in the New Line area of Ballygowan.

She managed the business of Mill House Equestrian Centre in Saintfield and also served as a constable with Lisburn PSNI for six years.

Despite her busy life, Claire had been looking forward to marriage with her fiancé Doug Stevenson, well known for competing internationally in dressage despite losing his sight.

When he was a teenager, Mr Stevenson was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition known as Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy that resulted in him becoming blind.

But in 2013, just five months after losing the last of his eyesight, Doug (27) won two able-bodied categories at the Irish National Dressage Championships in Cavan.

At the time, fiancée, Claire said: "He's a crazy perfectionist and once he starts he can be quite obsessive."

Yesterday her mother Adrienne Lowe (68) and brother Philip (35) were comforted by friends and family at the Mill Field stables.

"She was just a brilliant girl, absolutely fantastic," her mother told the Belfast Telegraph.

"There was no end to her talents. She could do anything from cooking to riding horses, she was up for anything. She was definitely an entrepreneur, always ready to go."

"Everybody's devastated, they just can't believe this has happened. We were all talking to her during the week."

The family said the loss had been a double blow for them after Claire's father Gerry Lowe - who founded the successful Lisburn refrigeration firm Lowe - died last December.

"We had just lost our father and she was traumatised, her last year on this planet was traumatic," said Philip.

"She was trying to make ends meet, keeping this house, burning the candle at both ends."

"I was just speaking to her yesterday (Wednesday). She was the most brilliant person I ever met. The smartest, kindest and most fair. She will be missed by hundreds for ever."

He added: "The family are shocked and devastated and we ask to have our privacy respected."

Lisburn and Castlereagh City District Commander, Superintendent Sean Wright, added his condolences to his late colleague.

"Claire was an experienced and professional police officer with six years service," he said.

"Claire was in the prime of her life. We all knew of her love for horses and for her sport but we also knew her for being a committed police officer who found challenge and reward in serving the local community and in keeping people safe throughout the Lisburn and Castlereagh District."

He continued: "Claire's untimely death has caused shock amongst her friends and colleagues across PSNI. She will be very much missed by all of us and her loss will be deeply felt for a long time to come."

He added: "Our thoughts are with Claire's family and friends at this tragic and difficult time."

Kellie Armstrong, the Alliance MLA for Strangford said: "I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Constable Lowe. It is a tragedy that someone with so much to offer our society has been taken so suddenly in what is thought to have been a freak accident. My thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time."

Many friends also continued to pay their respects yesterday on social media.

"Everyone who had the pleasure of meeting Claire, will know how lovely and kind hearted she was," said Laura Devenney.

"Wasn't long ago I was sitting in your kitchen for a catch up and a cup of tea - never imagining I would be writing this a short time later.

"You hear of freak accidents in the equestrian world, but you never think it will never happen to any of your friends or family. Sadly this time that wasn't the case."

She said she would remember her as: "A true horsewoman - passionate and dedicated. Sending love to all her family and friends at this difficult time, especially her partner Doug."

The funeral service is to take place at St Ignatius Church on the Saintfield Road in Carryduff tomorrow, with further details to be released soon.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph