Northern Ireland news

Tributes paid to police officer who died in riding accident in Co Down

Claire Lowe was well known in the equestrian community and frequently competed at events
Suzanne McGonagle and Andrew Madden

A POLICE officer who died in a tragic off-duty riding accident has been described as someone who "found challenge and reward in serving the local community".

Claire Lowe (39) from Co Down suffered fatal injuries when she fell off her horse on the Moss Road in Ballygowan on Wednesday.

The ambulance service was called to the scene in the New Line area of Ballygowan at around 3.20pm. 

Ms Lowe is believed to have been riding with a local hunt.

The incident has been described as a "freak hunting accident", although the cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

Tributes have been paid to Ms Lowe, who was a well-known figure in equestrian circles across Ireland, and ran the Mill House Equestrian Centre in her hometown of Saintfield.

PSNI Superintendent Sean Wright, Lisburn and Castlereagh City District Commander, said her loss would be deeply felt for a long time.

"Claire was an experienced and professional police officer with six years' service," he said.

"Claire was in the prime of her life.

"We all knew of her love for horses and for her sport but we also knew her for being a committed police officer who found challenge and reward in serving the local community and in keeping people safe throughout the Lisburn and Castlereagh district.

"Claire's untimely death has caused shock amongst her friends and colleagues across PSNI.

"She will be very much missed by all of us and her loss will be deeply felt for a long time to come."

The Police Federation also extended its "deepest sympathy to the family, colleagues and friends of Constable Lowe.

Meanwhile, messages of condolence from friends have flooded in through social media.

“Completely shocked and saddened. Cannot get over the sad news. RIP Claire. Died doing what she loved,” one post read.

“A lovely person. Will be much missed by the Co Down Equestrian Community. Prayers and thoughts go to the family,” wrote another.

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