Shock as man’s body is recovered from sea off Islandmagee

Tributes have been paid to a local man who died in what appears to have been a tragic accident while walking near the Gobbins cliffs in Islandmagee.

Monday, 5th April 2021, 5:11 pm

Alan Hope has been described as a very caring man who loved the outdoor life.

It is thought that Mr Hope, who was affectionately known as ‘Hoper’, lost his footing at the local beauty spot and fell to his death.

Police have confirmed that the body of a man was recovered from the sea by the Coastguard after he was reported missing from the Gobbins area yesterday (Sunday, April 4).

Alan Hope.

Friends at Whitehead Golf Club said: “Alan was one of life’s characters, he loved to play cards, he loved a drink, he loved to socialise and boy, did he love to dance!

“He was a great athlete at school and had the most natural golf swing that you could ever see.

“He played off a low single figure handicap for years.

“Alan represented Whitehead Golf Club on many occasions and in his younger days reached the final of the Ulster Youths Championship, only to be beaten by Belvoir Park’s Perry Malone.

“Alan worked most of his life for the Government’s Ordnance Survey department and often found himself on remote hilltops across the country looking for trig points. He just lived for the outdoor life.

“He was an extremely caring individual and that was plainly obvious in his caring of his terminally ill girlfriend, Jane, caring for and loving her until her demise.

“Alan would never miss a funeral of anyone from Whitehead Golf Club. He was always there paying his respects to friends he had lost. Quietly in the background, saying his personal goodbyes.

“There are a great deal of happy stories and laughs that will be recalled about Alan. He will be missed by many around the Club, but our thoughts go out to his family at this very sad time,” the club added.

Following news of the tragedy, many people from across the Whitehead and Larne areas paid warm tributes to Mr Hope on social media.

One friend said: “Tragic loss of a true gentleman who just thoroughly enjoyed life and lived it to the full. RIP Hoper, you will be missed.”

Another added: “There will never be a conversation started about Hoper that won’t raise a smile.”

A fellow sportsman commented: “What an utter tragedy, Alan was a very kind and thoughtful man, he was not only a good golfer but was excellent around the bowling green. When I was introduced to the game it was Alan that gave me the much needed encouragement. I for one will miss him greatly, God rest my friend.”

Police confirmed that a post mortem will be carried out in due course however the death is not being treated as suspicious at this time.