Northern Ireland news

Tributes to Co Antrim teacher Barney Riley-Dobbin after death in Ecuador climbing accident

Barney Riley-Dobbin from Artlone near Randalstown was killed in an accident on Mount Chimborazo in the Ecuadorian Andes range

THE body of a 25-year-old teacher who died while climbing to the summit of South America's highest mountain is to be flown home to his Co Antrim family.

Barney Riley-Dobbin from Artlone near Randalstown was killed in an accident on Mount Chimborazo in the Ecuadorian Andes range.

Mr Dobbin had been living in Ecuador where he taught the reception (nursery) class at The British School Quito (BSQ).

The school authorities broke the news of his death in a Facebook post.

"It is with great sadness that we share the news of the death of our much loved colleague Ciaran Barney Riley-Dobbin," it wrote.

"Barney was a wonderful teacher and friend and will be greatly missed by everyone in the BSQ family and beyond."

His dedication to teaching and caring for young people was reflected in tributes paid to the young man.

Parent Maggie Singh described him as "such a young, affable, gentle person".

"Though so young, he was always so patient, kind and understanding of our children," she said.

"He always personally involved in their growth and well-being, so caring and loving, and he just won everyone’s heart with his gentle smile. Never saw him without his smile.

"Our condolences to his family and friends. He has created such a void in our lives."

Heidi Sternbach Bell, said her son had been "the luckiest camper to have had Barney assigned to him" when he worked at Elks Camp Moore for `individuals with special needs and disabilities' in America in 2016.

"He lit up (his) world in that one week and it was a friendship that kept going. His smile and caring ways were a true gift. He made such a difference in this world.

"We will always cherish having had Barney's friendship and the special care and love he gave to Tanner. It was a true honor to have had him in our lives. We will miss him "

A friend in Northern Ireland paid tribute to "the best friend, brother, son and teacher anyone could ever ask for, I feel so lucky to have had you by my side growing up".

John Toner from Magherafelt said his son Sean had been "a very close friend" and the pair "spent a month... during 2017 travelling through South America".

"Barney, whilst still at school himself spent a lot of time in our house, and we as a family will both treasure these times and at the same time express our deepest condolences to Barney's family for the loss they are suffering.

"You are an incredible inspiration to everyone you have ever met. RIP."

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