Dozens of tributes paid to the 'legend in the Cregagh' Tillie Hay who took ill at Ulster Scots Coronation event at the Stormont Estate on Saturday

Members of the Ulster-Scots community and friends have paid tribute to a popular lady who took ill whilst attending a Coronation event at the Stormont Estate last Saturday and later passed away.

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The messages of condolences have been posted on social media underneath a formal post from the Ulster-Scots Agency who yesterday said they “have been deeply saddened by the passing of Tillie Hay, who for 35 years was a stalwart of the Bright Lights dance group in East Belfast and a pioneer in the revival and popularisation of Highland Dancing in Northern Ireland”.

Messages about Tillie on social media pay tribute to her caring nature. One says: “Tillie was a Neighbour of ours for any years. She will be very sadly missed, and remembered fondly.

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“She never missed an Easter or Christmas gift for Marcus, never mind the never ending packages that she took in for us. “Deepest sympathy to Davy, Alan, Martin and Ian. “God Bless Tillie”.

Other tributes said: “RIP Tillie. I've memories of her making costumes for a fancy dress competition in Cregagh Primary school early 70's, she was terrific wee lady”, “That’s totally beautiful, on behalf of Bright Lights we want to thank everyone also who helped on the day, and you are right she was out doing what she loved xxx”, “Aw- sad news. Encouraged my wee one over 20 years ago and really instilled a love for dancing that continues today. God Bless”, “Beautiful words, what an amazing person. Condolences to her family and friends” and “Very Sad news.Such beautiful word for a wonderful lady. Sincere sympathy to all her family. Rest in peace Tilly.”

East Belfast DUP MLA Joanne Bunting also told of her sadness. "Tillie Hay – Yesterday I was immensely shocked and saddened to hear of Tillie's sudden passing. I have known her for over 20 years and she was always a legend in the Cregagh and an absolute force of nature with boundless energy and spirit. "My condolences, thoughts and prayers are with her husband, her family circle, her friends and Bright Lights. "Privileged and blessed to have known a woman such as Tillie. x”

The Ulster-Scots Agency post says: "On Saturday morning past, Tillie came to Stormont Estate to support Bright Lights at the Ulster-Scots Coronation Celebration and was observing events with a keen interest when she was unexpectedly taken ill,” said the post. "Through the good work of first aiders, medical staff who were themselves attending the event and paramedics who quickly arrived on the scene, she was stabilised and taken to hospital.

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"Despite initial hope, we received the terrible news in the afternoon that Tillie had passed away. "All those who knew and loved Tillie as their very own bright light will be feeling great sadness as a result of her passing, but perhaps some small comfort may be found in the fact that immediately before she fell ill, she was among friends, doing something that she loved, supporting her dancers to take part in a historic event in the heart of East Belfast.

"We send our deepest condolences to her husband, children and family circle; and all her friends in Bright Lights and the wider Ulster-Scots dance community.” An earlier post soon after Tillie’s passing and also on social media from the Ulster-Scots Agency said: “IMPORTANT UPDATE. All those who attended our Coronation event at the Stormont Estate this morning will be aware that a member of the Ulster-Scots community attending the event was taken ill.

"They were treated by first aid staff and ambulance paramedics at the scene and taken to hospital. "Sadly we have since learned that they have passed away. "As a mark of respect, we will not be posting anything from the event until further notice.” The celebration event had been held at Stormont Estate, bringing together a broad spectrum of the Ulster-Scots community to celebrate together April 22.

Plans had been made for a celebration of the entirety of Ulster-Scots music and dance culture with Lambeg drums, Country and Highland Dancers and a range of musicians from Pipe, Flute, Accordion and Silver bands, and Drum Majors from throughout Northern Ireland.

The Coronation of King Charles III will take place on 6th May. This is a significant event for communities across the UK and the Commonwealth, including the Ulster-Scots community.