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Co Down plane crash: Mourners at Philip Murdock funeral told he was ‘gentle giant’

Mr Murdock died alongside teacher and mother-of-two Caroline Mawhinney
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th July 2022

Funeral of Philip Murdock, the businessman killed in a light aircraft crash in Newtownards, takes place at Ballymagarrick Gospel Hall, Carryduff. Caroline Mawhinney was also killed in the crash which happened last week. 

Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 25th July 2022 Funeral of Philip Murdock, the businessman killed in a light aircraft crash in Newtownards, takes place at Ballymagarrick Gospel Hall, Carryduff. Caroline Mawhinney was also killed in the crash which happened last week. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The funeral of Philip Murdock is taking place today

The funeral of Philip Murdock is taking place today

Kurtis ReidFast News

Mourners at the funeral of Phillip Murdock, who died in a light aircraft crash last week, has heard how he was a “gentle giant” and “a kind and caring man”.

Mr Murdock, who was the managing director of the security firm Envision Intelligent Solutions in Craigavon, died alongside teacher and mother-of-two Caroline Mawhinney when the plane they were both in came down near Newtownards Airport shortly after 8.20pm on Tuesday July 19.

“Learning to fly was a dream come true for Phillip” opened Alwyn Thompson at his funeral at Ballymagarrick Gospel Hall in Carryduff on Monday.

Mr Thompson thanked a number of people on behalf of Mr Murdock’s widow Esther Murdock including the Air Accident Board and PSNI welfare officers.

The opening remarks also included condolences to the Mawhinney family and said Mr Murdock’s “loved ones would keep them in their prayers”.

The funeral of Philip Murdock is taking place today

The funeral of Philip Murdock is taking place today

During the funeral it was announced there would be no tribute to the businessman, with speaker Tom Armstrong who led the service saying it was Mr Murdock’s wish for his funeral service, having made plans for it number of years ago.

“Most of us knew (Phillip) as a gentle giant, a kind and caring man, and a devoted husband and loving son,” said Mr Armstrong.

Instead, Mr Armstrong read a selection of bible passages to the several hundred mourners who packed the small gospel hall and the surrounding car park, advocating the importance of Christianity.

In a prepared statement the Murdock family said Monday “was a difficult day” and that Mr Murdock’s sudden death “has left the whole family deeply saddened”.

They continued: “Apart from family, some of the large number of people today who have attended the funeral service will have known Philip from his successful career in business, others through his love for aviation, friends from his church and many who simply knew him as a good friend.

Philip was an innovator who was always keen to explore new opportunities which included starting up and maintaining a very successful business. He was generous with his time, resources and knowledge. Helping and supporting others was never an issue - this was just who Philip was.

Referring to Mr Murdock’s faith, the family said he was 11 years old when he first turned to Christianity and hoped this would comfort his wife Esther “in the coming days and weeks as she faces the prospect of life without Philip”.

“We have lost a wonderful husband, son, brother, uncle and friend and will miss him sorely. We are grateful for all the happy memories of the wonderful, fun, kind and loving individual that Philip was.”

Last week it was confirmed two separate investigations have been launched into the circumstances which led to Mr Murdock and Ms Mawhinney’s deaths.

The PSNI has said it is investigating on behalf of the coroner while the Air Accidents Branch said a team of inspectors have been sent to the crash site and will be continuing their investigation.

Police are also appealing for witnesses of the crash to contact them.

Caroline Mawhinney

Caroline Mawhinney

Both Mr Murdock and Ms Mawhinney (44), who was due to start a role at New-Bridge Integrated College in Banbridge this autumn, were members of the Ulster Flying Club.

The club confirmed the investigations in a statement on behalf of the Chairman, Directors, members and staff.

Eyewitnesses described seeing the plane carrying Mr Murdock and Ms Mawhinney crash into hedges near the airfield.

Just two days before the tragedy, the Hillsborough businessman flew his niece from Newtownards to Prestwick in Scotland, completing the trip in 22 minutes and writing online he had been “delighted” to do so.

Tributes were also paid to the pair, with Carla Lockhart, MP for Upper Bann, describing Mr Murdock as “a lovely man with a great business head”.

The funeral arrangements for Ms Mawhinney are yet to be released.

A statement on Funeral Times said: “Dearly loved wife for 19 years of Steven, much loved mum of Joshua and Emily, loving and adored daughter of John and the late Heather, the best sister of Kelly and special aunt of Bailey. Funeral arrangements later.”


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