A Co Antrim farmer who tragically lost his life in a road crash last week has been described as “one of life’s true gentlemen” by his colleagues.
Wilson Atchison, from the Bushmills area, died following a two-vehicle collision on the Belfast Road, Brookeborough, on Friday morning.
The 42-year-old is to be laid to rest on Tuesday after a service in Ballyrashane Presbyterian Church at 2.30pm. He will be interred afterwards in Ballywillan Cemetery.
Warm tributes have been paid to the father-of-three, who was a well known and highly respected in the local farming community.
His employer, Stephen Moore Farm Machinery, hailed Mr Atchison as a “tremendous ambassador” for the business.
In a statement, they told the News Letter: “We are devastated by the loss of not just our colleague, but our close friend.
“We’ve known Wilson a long time and he has been part of our team since we bought the business in 2008.
“He always went above and beyond in everything that he did. He was much loved, not just by his wife and young family but the staff and customers in the wider John Deere fraternity.
“Wilson was one of life’s true gentlemen and he will be sorely missed by all of us.”
Meanwhile, Bushmills farmer and deputy president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, Victor Chestnutt, spoke of his shock and sadness at Mr Atchison’s death, adding: “It is a tragic reminder of how dangerous rural roads can sometimes be.
“Wilson was a well-known and respected member of the farming community and my thoughts and prayers are with the family at this difficult time.”
DUP MLA Maurice Bradley, who is a member of Ballyrashane Presbyterian Church, said prayers were offered for Mr Atchison and his family at a service on Sunday.
He told the News Letter: “I was shocked to hear the sad news about Wilson’s death.
“I would like to send my deepest condolences to his wife, children and wider family at this difficult time.”
Tributes were also paid on social media, with one person stating: “He was a top man and won’t be forgotten.”
Another wrote: “So shocked to hear of Wilson’s untimely death. Always smiling and good craic.”
The PSNI is investigating the incident which claimed Mr Atchison’s life and is appealing for witnesses to come forward.
Officers are keen to hear from anyone who was travelling on the Belfast Road at around the time of the crash and who may have witnessed it or captured dash cam footage that could assist with the investigation.