THE family of the senior civil servant who died while fishing on the north coast have said that he was “a man in a million”.
Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) chief executive Stanley Duncan, 57, died earlier this week when he fell into the sea near Portstewart harbour.
Stormont ministers, colleagues and friends have paid tribute to the Comber man for his dedication to his job and his charity efforts.
A family statement released last night said: “He was a man in a million.”
Mr Duncan fell from rocks on Tuesday night close to Portstewart harbour and was recovered from the water by a lifeboat.
Two other anglers, one local and one from further afield who had been fishing a short distance away, went to Mr Duncan’s aid and managed to stop him being swept away. He was taken to the Causeway Hospital for treatment, but died there later.
Growing up on a farm in the heart of Co Down as the third in a family of four, he developed a great love for the outdoors, and would probably have liked most to have been a farmer, his family said.
“He did a bit of sea-fishing, but was particularly fond of hill-walking and camping, and his garden in Comber is a haven for all kinds of small birds, where the bird-table is always laid,” the statement added.
In his younger days he played hockey for Friends Old Boys, and competed at quite a high level in motocross.
The family said: “The other great mark of Stan’s life was his Christian service, expressed in a host of ways through his church, The Crescent Church on University Road in Belfast.”
Chris Little, a volunteer with Coleraine Coastguard, said there had been incidents all along the coast, including at the same rocks in the past.
The Coleraine Coastguard team expressed sympathy to Mr Duncan’s family on the organisation’s Facebook page. A message said: “We extend our sincere condolences to the family of the deceased.”
Tributes have been paid to the 57-year-old civil servant, including from three former DUP environment ministers: Arlene Foster, Edwin Poots and Sammy Wilson. Current Environment Minister Alex Attwood also expressed his sympathies.
Mr Duncan worked in the Northern Ireland Civil Service for 36 years.
He joined the DOE in 1977, and worked in various capacities including director of road safety, and latterly as chief executive of DVA.
Colleagues are shocked and saddened by his death.
Mr Duncan is survived by his wife Wendy, daughters Victoria and Ruth, son-in-law Ed, father and mother Cecil and Sally, brothers John and David, as well as sister Valerie.
There will be a private family funeral for Mr Duncan before a thanksgiving service at the Crescent Church on University Road tomorrow.
The family has appealed for donations in lieu of flowers to Mission Albania via the Crescent Church.