Tributes have been pouring in for a well-known Strabane rally enthusiast and company boss whose sudden death at the weekend has caused great shock and sadness.
Cyril Doherty, who was 44, died while taking part in the Northern Ireland Rally Championships at Kirkistown Race Track in Co Down on Saturday afternoon.
Cyril is believed to have taken ill behind the wheel of his Subaru Imprezza while taking part in the sport he loved. Despite the assistance of paramedics who were at the scene within seconds, it is understood he died instantly.
Cyril was Managing Director of Boranmopak, the packaging company based at Ballycolman Industrial Estate in Strabane, where colleagues have been left stunned by his untimely death. He had worked at the company since the age of 17 from humble beginnings when it started out in a shed at the town’s Derry Road.
Cyril quickly rose through the ranks at the Strabane plant, which currently employs over 60 staff, his hard work and dedication to the business positioning him at the most senior level.
Mairtin Boran, Managing Director of Boran Plastic Packaging in Kildare, said: “All at Boranmopak acknowledge the huge loss of our working colleague and personal friend, Cyril. He will leave a void that will be extremely hard to fill and everyone is committed to making sure we do things as he would have wanted in the future.”
The devastation at his passing is felt most acutely by his family - wife Caroline, mother Philomena and brothers Billy and Peter.
It is the second time the Doherty family have endured tragedy. The oldest of four brothers, Gregory, died in a house fire in London in 1987, aged 21. Their father Colm, a former Du Pont employee, passed away eight years ago.
Cyril’s family yesterday described him as a perfect husband, son and brother.
Speaking from the family home at Glen Road in Strabane as she made preparations for the funeral of her second son, Philomena Doherty said: “He was a great son. He was just like my right arm. He worked so hard and he was doing something that he loved, rallying. He made many friends over the years and everyone is devastated.”
Younger brother Peter, said Cyril was taking part in the 4th stage of the rally on Saturday when his co-driver realised he was not responding.
“Two teams of Rapid Response paramedics were at his side within 30 seconds but it seems to have been instant.”
Peter said Cyril’s family, friends and colleagues were “totally gutted” at his death.
“He was passionate about his rallying from a young age and had won a number of titles. He loved his wife, he loved his family, he loved his work and he loved his cars.
“He was a great fella, very supportive and knowledgable in business; you never questioned his advice.”
Peter said Cyril had taken the lead after the death of their older brother, and later their father.
“He stepped up to the mark big time. It is unreal that he’s gone.”
Cyril’s funeral takes place tomorrow afternoon in Plumbridge where he and Caroline had made their home.