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Kilkeel in shock at sudden deaths of two men

Kilkeel Harbour

Kilkeel Harbour

Residents in Kilkeel are reeling from the shock of the tragic deaths of two men in the small town in the space of 24 hours.

The men, both named William, died in separate incidents at the weekend.

William Nicholls died after his motorbike crashed on the Katesbridge Road in Moneyslane on Sunday afternoon.

The 24-year-old leaves behind his wife Juneve and young daughter Amelia.

It is also understood Juneve is expecting the couple’s second child.

On Sunday morning William Ballance, also from Kilkeel, was found on a fishing boat after a night out in the town.

Mr Ballance, aged in his early 20s, was a fisherman and is believed to have been socialising in the local legion on Saturday night but did not return home.

Tributes have been paid to both men, who were said to be well-known and well-liked in the area.

Mr Nicholls, a member of Mourne Young Defenders band, had worked as a stonemason at local firm McConnell and Sons since leaving school.

Company director Alan McConnell said he was a great member of staff who aspired to progress in the workplace.

“He had good hands on him,” said Mr McConnell.

“He came into work and was able and willing to learn well. He wanted to learn and take himself forward.”

Mr Nicholls was involved in the company’s contract to build the Armed Forces Memorial at The National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

Mr McConnell said some staff were unable to go to work yesterday, such was their shock and sadness.

“He will be a big loss and sadly missed here,” he said. “We are a family-run business and we have a very close-knit team. It is awful news.”

A statement on the Mourne Young Defenders Facebook page said: “RIP Willy, top class bloke and dedicated band member, you will be missed badly by everyone.”

William Ballance was described as a “happy-go-lucky” man by local DUP councillor William Burns, who said the loss of both men was a blow to the area.

On Facebook further tributes were paid. One read: “He was a real gentle man to everyone, will be sadly missed, thoughts and prayers are with you all at this hard time.”

UUP councillor Harold McKee said: “For two such tragedies in that short space of time to happen in a small community like Kilkeel is really shocking and so sad.

“In the run-up to Christmas when people are preparing to come together and celebrate it becomes even more tragic.”

 

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