Northern Ireland news

Funds raised in memory of man who died while trying to rescue pet dog in Co Down

Family and friends of Arnie Clarke raised funds for the Air Ambulance NI

FAMILY and friends of a man who died while trying to rescue his pet dog in Co Down have taken part in one of his favourite walks to raise funds for the emergency service that tried to help save his life.

Arnie Clarke (55) from Antrim died in Tollymore Forest Park, Newcastle in February last year as he attempted to retrieve his dog from the Shimna River.

A father-of-three and grandfather-of-five, he was well-known in sporting circles with connections to Naomh Comhghall GAA club and Antrim FC.

His partner Nichola McGregor last night said the Air Ambulance NI were tasked to the scene, but despite the best efforts of the medical team and the NI Ambulance Service, his life could not be saved.

"The Air Ambulance was despatched and arrived quickly that terrible day, but sadly and painfully they could not save Arnie," she said.

"They gave him every chance possible, they fought so hard and for so long, bringing an expert consultant they reached us on a riverbank in the middle of a forest.

"With the help of all the emergency services, police, ambulance, mountain rescue and the fire brigade they fought for hours to try to save Arnie and bring him back."

Following his tragic death, Ms McGregor decided to follow in his footsteps and walk the 30km long route from Portballintrea to Portbradden that her partner had loved.

Joined by family and friends, they raised £5,136 in memory of Mr Clarke, which will fund almost a full day of the Air Ambulance NI service.

Kerry Anderson, head of fundraising for the charity, said: "We are so touched that Nichola and the team chose to support our charity whilst remembering Arnie.

"It was an absolute pleasure to welcome Nichola and family to our base and humbling to witness them do something so positive in the face of such tragic circumstances.

"The walk along the north coast was a beautiful tribute to Arnie and this generous donation will help people receive advanced critical care when the worst has happened."

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