Father of three killed in India

A Portrush man who was tragically killed on a charity motorcycle tour in India sent a last text message to his wife just hours before he died.

Dad of three, Christopher Hallam (39), was killed after he collided with a car close to Kotagiri, a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu in the southern part of the Indian peninsula around 9.30am local time last Wednesday.

The tragedy happened when Christopher, known to family and friends at Titch, swerved to avoid a cow on the Ooty-Kotagiri road and collided with a car heading in the opposite direction.

His wife Gillian told last week, how he had sent her a text message on the day he died telling her how happy he was and how much he was enjoying the tour.

Christopher, of Glenvale Avenue, was among 64 motorbike enthusiasts from Northern Ireland, England and Canada on their way to Kodaikanal after visiting Goa as part of a two week ride across India.

Tragically he was due home last Sunday.

Gillian said: “He is out there all alone now, we need to have him back here with us, so that we can grieve properly,” she said.

“I have been on the phone constantly to the embassy and the police trying to find out when he can come home. The PSNI have been brilliant in the help they have given me, and I know they are doing all they can.”

A teacher at Ballymena Academy, Gillian said she had been on “auto pilot” since she was given the devastating news.

“It was the trip of a lifetime.

“The last text I got from him was [Wednesday] morning. He was going on safari and was about to go to the pool

“It’s what he wanted to do, he was having a ball and was so happy.

“It is tragic that he was so happy and then his life was just taken like that.”

The Portrush man, who ran Wise Guys pizza takeaway on the outskirts of Portrush, leaves behind three children, Dylan (11), Skye (7) and Jake (3).

“He was a brilliant husband and father — just a real good guy, “ said Gillian.

She said that the children were devastated, and “dealing with things in their own way”.

Passionate about travelling, music and motorbikes Gillian described her husband as “fun-loving, outgoing and sociable.”

The pupils of Portrush Primary School, where his children attend, held a non-uniform day last October to raise funds for his trip.

He was taking part in the Enduro India Challenge where participants rode Royal Enfield motorcycles in support of charities such as the Ranbow Trust, Wildlife Conservation India and UNICEF.

Organisers of the charity challenge said: “Chris did everything he could to avoid hitting the animal but in doing so changed direction suddenly and collided with an oncoming vehicle head-on. He was killed instantly.

“We have said a prayer for his family and children and held a minute’s silence for Chris who died doing something he loved very much whilst helping others less fortunate.

“We miss him very much and our thoughts and prayers go out to all that know him, especially those closest to him. R.I.P Chris.”

Christopher lived in Portrush, but grew up in Ballymoney, where his parents Ivor and Anne and brother David still live.

Another brother, Stephen, is travelling back from England.

Indian police are investigating the accident. They said that the group were on their way to the city of Kodaikanal when the collision occurred.

They confirmed that Mr Hallam’s body had been taken to the Government Hospital in Kotagiri for a post-mortem.

Bill Kennedy, the mayor of Ballymoney, who knows the family well, said he was stunned by Christopher’s loss.

“This is terrible news for any family and for it to happen so far away in such tragic circumstances makes it all the more difficult to take,” he said.

“I have known the family all my life and it is devastating to hear this news.”

Mr Hallam is survived by his wife Gillian, children Dylan, Skye and Jake, parents Ivor and Ann and brothers Stephen and David.