Mr Mark Valentine

THE death has taken place of Killinchy man Mark Valentine. He was 52.

Mr Valentine, who passed away on January 7, was well known in the local sailing fraternity.

Born and raised in Omagh, he learned to sail at Lough Erne Yacht Club where, even as a teenager, he earned the reputation of being an exceptionally talented sailor. 

JP McCaldin from Lough Erne, who is currently among the top GP14 and J24 sailors in Ireland, said Mark was “genuinely one of the nicest people he had ever known and unarguably the best sailor from Lough Erne in my lifetime”.

Mark’s family moved to Comber in the late eighties when he joined Newtownards Sailing Club where he sailed GP14s, gaining many successes with his crew, Martin Hannon. 

Mark also served on the club’s committee for many years, eventually becoming commodore.

His talents were never confined to one club and he was sought out by many sailors, not only as an excellent crew, but for his tactical knowledge. 

Mark was a member of Ballyholme Yacht Club where he sailed Dart 18s and East Down Yacht Club where he loved cruising in his Ulsterboat. He also sailed with Tom and Dianne Andrews on their yacht Gum at Strangford Lough Yacht Club.

In recent years, Mark rejoined Lough Erne Yacht Club which was his favourite place to relax and sail his Hunter Medina Cruiser, exploring the unique beauty of the area. 

He also regained his completive streak by winning the Yeoman Irish Championship last year, sailing with his great friend, Garnet Doherty.

In Mark’s business life he worked for Potter Cowan where headed up a sales team which took him the length and breadth of Ireland. He also helped to establish bases in Dublin and Cork for the company.

Mark was a loving husband to Sarah-Jane and devoted father to their son, Charlie. He is also survived by his mother, Kathleen, and brothers Paul, Colin and Ian.