RBAI flies flag at half-mast after sudden deaths of two former pupils in 24 hours

Matt Campbell and Benjamin Davis
Matt Campbell and Benjamin Davis
  • Two men who died 24 hours apart attended same school

The flag at RBAI was flying at half-mast yesterday as a mark of respect to two of its pupils who lost their lives in a 24-hour period.

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Benjamin Davis, who died in America on Tuesday

Benjamin Davis, who died in America on Tuesday

Benjamin Davis died in America on Tuesday in what is understood to have been a tragic accident, while Matthew Campbell died on Wednesday when he was struck by a falling tree in Slieve Gullion Park.

A single school year separated the boys at the Belfast school.

RBAI principal Janet Williamson, who has been head of the school for 11 years, said: “We have the flag flying at half mast. It’s normally something that is only reserved for very prominent Instonians, but we’ve done it as a mark of respect to these two young men, who were model students.

“I’ve been a principal for 18 years and I’ve never experienced anything like this.”

She said Benjamin Davis was “a very approachable young man, a very personable and well-liked pupil”.

Ms Williamson added: “He really embraced our mantra of participation through the Duke of Edinburgh and sport.

“He was definitely a role model and a very generous and kind young man.”

Of Mr Campbell she said: “When he attended the school he did not miss a single day in 14 years.

Janet Williamson said she had never experienced anything like it

Janet Williamson said she had never experienced anything like it

“His legacy was that in 2012, when he left the school, we introduced an award for outstanding attendance. That award will now be called the Matthew Campbell Award for Attendance.

“His attendance record was a big factor in him getting his first job. His first response was to come back to the school and thank us.

“He was a really lovely young man, very sincere.”