From Alan Murray
I had the great good fortune of joining the ambulance service on the same day that Alister rejoined. He’d left to support his brother keep his haulage business going after he lost an eye in an accident, but it was clear to anyone who knew Ally that his heart was in ambulance work.
He guided me through my first emergency call and we worked together on a number of other memorable occasions, On one of these, we dealt with a multiple casualty RTC, with two fatalities, in a very rural part of the Antrim Coast, with no back-up available. Our only option was our small local hospital and we found ourselves working in its casualty department for an hour or more, to help them with the number and severity of our patients.
Alister’s trademark was his calmness under pressure and his humanity in all circumstances. He hated gossip and, more than once, I heard him gently chiding colleagues for ‘talking about people when they aren’t here to answer’. We lost touch when I moved to Surrey Ambulance Service, but I’m glad to say that
I was in Belfast for a visit at the time he died. I got a call to tell me the awful news and my wife and I got straight into the car and drove the 56 miles to Coleraine, We were met by the most shocked and grief-stricken group of ambulance colleagues that I have ever seen; a reflection of their love and respect for Ally.
I paid my respects in the hospital mortuary because I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend his funeral.
That, for me, was final confirmation that we had lost him. When we can’t make the funeral, we often say that our thoughts will be with our deceased colleagues and their families. I can say with absolute honesty that my thoughts were with Alister and his family then, and for a long time after the formalities were over.