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Tributes to Mark Elliott who died while walking in Mournes

'Gentle' dad-of-one Mark Elliott (44) died after a suspected heart attack

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Tragic: Mark Elliott, who died after collapsing while walking in the Mournes

Tragic: Mark Elliott, who died after collapsing while walking in the Mournes

Tragic: Mark Elliott, who died after collapsing while walking in the Mournes

A mountain walker who died suddenly on New Year's Eve has been described as "a gentle giant with a heart to match".

Mark Elliott (44) from Portadown passed away from a suspected heart attack while descending the Donard Commedagh Saddle around 1.50pm on Thursday afternoon.

A popular member of the Flute Church Band and the Portadown True Blues Flute Band, he is survived by his wife Tracy and his son Alexander.

Earlier in the week Mr Elliott, an experienced walker, had posted an anniversary tribute to his wife on social media and had also shared pictures of them enjoying a day of hiking on Boxing Day.

A spokesperson from Mourne Mountain Rescue Team confirmed that they received a request for help just before 2pm on Thursday "regarding a medical emergency".

Other walkers had stopped to provide help, with nearby team members responding, followed by a response from the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance and further team members.

The spokesperson added: "Despite the best efforts of all those involved, the walker was pronounced deceased at the scene.

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"Other members of the walker's group were escorted off the mountain while the deceased was evacuated by the team on a stretcher to road access."

A heartfelt message was posted on the Flute Church Band's Facebook page was among the many tributes made on Friday to Mr Elliott, who was known affectionately as ET.

"This New Year's Day sees us having to post the most difficult of posts and one we never ever wanted to share, but yesterday we lost a giant, a gentle giant with a heart to match," the message read.

The band passed on their condolences to his wife, son, parents, his step son and daughters and the entire family circle.

"It is often said that a band is an extended family and Mark will be sorely missed by both bands he played a major part in," the message added.

"Our band will be a poorer place with Mark gone. Mark was a committed member of Flute Band Church, holding the position of lead tip and committee member and nothing was ever too much trouble for him from teaching drumming to the younger and less experienced members to leading the band at many of the functions and parades we participated in.

"Alexander, Mark's son, is also a valued member of our band, known up and down the country as the FBC junior Bass Drummer and our hearts especially go out to him at this time."

A post from Portadown True Blues Flute Band added that he was "a leading example" for younger members who would be deeply missed.

Jonathan Buckley, the DUP MLA for Upper Bann, said he was "desperately sorry" to hear the news.

"Mark was well known and respected in our town and my heart truly goes out to his wife Tracy and son Alexander, whom he was so devoted to," he said.

Independent councillor Paul Berry added: "It is with real shock and deep sadness when I learned of the passing of our good friend Mark. He was one mighty lad whom I have known from our days at Portadown Tech.

"Ever since then he never would have passed you whether on the street or proudly parading with Portadown True Blues. He was so proud of his son Alexander and our prayers and thoughts go out to Tracy, Alexander and the wider family."


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