Northern Ireland

Parents of Christopher McKee pay tribute to their son

Christopher McKee
Image caption Christopher McKee was described as "intelligent" and a "pleasure to work with"

The parents of a student from Northern Ireland who died of suspected meningitis have paid tribute to their son.

Christopher McKee, 21, from Ballymena, was studying sports journalism at Sunderland University.

He was found dead in a flat in the Pallion area on 26 March.

His parents, Anna and Samuel McKee said they were "absolutely devastated" and "shocked" by their son's death.

"Christopher was a quiet and considerate young man, who never made a fuss and was incredibly close to his family," his parents said.

"He had a huge respect for people of all ages.


"It had always been his dream and ambition to become a sports reporter, he had such an encyclopaedic knowledge of sport and everyone used to joke that he would be the next Jackie Fullerton, the famous Northern Ireland television journalist, when he headed off to university.

"He was a huge Manchester United and Rangers fan and loved playing football socially.

"We will always be very proud of Christopher and what he had achieved throughout his life."

Neil Farrington, lecturer in BA Sports Journalism at the university, said: "Our thoughts are with his family.

"We are devastated for them and for his friends.

"Chris was very well-liked and a pleasure to work with. He had a remarkable maturity for a first-year student.

"He was a big Northern Ireland fan. He was also a Rangers fan and there were a few Celtic supporters in class who enjoyed some good banter with Chris."

A University of Sunderland spokesperson said: "We have been informed that the meningococcal infection may have been involved in Christopher McKee's death.

'Very popular'

"We are all deeply saddened by Christopher's death and have been offering our support to his family, friends and fellow students.

"He was very popular with his peers and his lecturers. He was an intelligent student who had a bright future ahead of him and it is tragic that his life has been cut short."

His friends are being offered antibiotics as a precaution, the university has confirmed.

A spokeswoman for the university said staff were working closely with the Health Protection Agency to give students advice and support.

She said only people who had had prolonged contact with someone with meningitis were at risk.

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