Funeral of Christopher McKee takes place

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

The funeral has taken place of a student from Northern Ireland who died of suspected meningitis.

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

He was found dead in a flat in the Pallion area on 26 March. His funeral took place at Kells Presbyterian Church on Thursday.

Reverend Brian Boyd, who took the funeral service, described Christopher as a "lovely young man".

"Everyone who knew him remarked on his cheerfulness and his good disposition," he said.

"He was just a pleasure to know."

Mr Boyd said Christopher's family had been sustained by their Christian faith in the days following his death.

"He seemed to be fit and healthy and had very few symptoms," he added.

"He was not feeling the best and went to bed and the next morning his friend found him and that was it."

Christopher's 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," they 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 their thoughts were with his family.

"Chris was very well-liked and a pleasure to work with," he said.

"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.

"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."

Christopher's 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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