Tributes have been paid to road racing travelling doctor John Hinds, who died following an incident during practice at the Skerries 100 meeting near Dublin.
The 35-year-old Tandragee man carried out his role on a voluntary basis for the Motorcycle Union of Ireland (MCUI), providing rapid response medical aid at road race meetings north and south and has been credited with saving countless lives.
He was involved in an accident during practice for the Irish national road race on Friday afternoon, with the organising Loughshinny Motorcycle Club taking the decision to cancel the remainder of the day’s action afterwards.
Racing went ahead on Saturday and it later transpired that Dr Hinds had sadly passed away in hospital.
DUP Health Minister Simon Hamilton said he was shocked and saddened to learn of the tragic death of the Craigavon Area Hospital consultant.
Mr Hamilton said: “I had the honour of meeting Dr Hinds recently. His skill was undoubted but what shone through was his passion for his work.
“John was extremely well regarded not just within the medical profession, but right across the motorcycling world, where his loss will be greatly mourned.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.”
Dr Hinds was a major advocate of the need for an emergency medical helicopter in Northern Ireland – an issue for which he found support from TUV leader Jim Allister.
And the Stormont MLA yesterday said the greatest tribute to Dr Hinds’ legacy would be for his air ambulance ambitions to become a reality.
Mr Allister said: “I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the untimely death of Dr John Hinds.
“Just three weeks ago Dr Hinds and I met the Health Minister to press him about the need for a Northern Ireland Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS).
“Dr Hinds was a man who displayed a very clear passion for improving the provision of emergency treatment. He was able to present a clear and compelling case for an air ambulance and displayed a knowledge of the issue which was second to none.
“My thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones at this time. It is important that we acknowledge as well, however, that his death is a loss to the whole of Northern Ireland.
“It would be a fitting tribute for government to now proceed with air ambulance and I trust that the momentum which he was creating towards this end will not be lost.”