The Ulster hockey family united at the weekend to pay an emotional tribute to one of their own — Austin Hunter, who was killed in a road accident while working in Bahrain last week.
The former News Letter editor played hockey for North Down and was a highly respected umpire while his passion for the sport was also reflected in his coverage of the game in the media.
Clubs observed a minute’s silence in memory of Mr Hunter before matches on Saturday.
“Austin was a truly remarkable man who had real passion for the sport and took a keen interest in the players,” admitted Pegasus and Ireland player Michelle Harvey.
“He was extremely personable and always took time to hear about our lives in and outside of hockey.
“Austin was very supportive of my club and international career and he will be missed by all who knew him in Ulster hockey.”
Mr Hunter’s son Simon plays junior hockey for Bangor and the former BBC reporter and public relations expert loved tracking his progress.
Former umpiring colleague Lyn Morrow, who led the minute’s silence before the Ulster Premier League game between Queen’s University and Raphoe yesterday, echoed Harvey’s sentiments.
“Austin was a wonderful man,” she said.
“It was always a pleasure umpiring with Austin, who had also such a sense of fun both on and off the pitch.”
The 64-year-old was working as a media consultant for the Northern Ireland Co-operation Overseas (NI-CO) when he was knocked down and killed in a road traffic accident in the Middle East.
The organisation sends local experts to advise state bodies abroad.
A man has been arrested in Bahrain in connection with the death of the father of two.
Mr Hunter’s funeral will take place today at 2nd Comber Presbyterian Church, starting at 2.00pm.