ATHLETICS: Tribute paid to Ballyclare’s Hill McNeill

Ballyclare athlete Hill McNeill who has passed away aged 89. INNT 46-802CON
Ballyclare athlete Hill McNeill who has passed away aged 89. INNT 46-802CON

Tributes have been paid to Hill McNeill from Ballyclare who has passed away after a short illness.

Hill, who was well respected in local athletics circles died on Saturday, October 31. He was 89.

A lifelong member of East Antrim Harriers, based in Ballyclare, he ran at local, national and international level. One of his greatest achievements came in 1963 when he won the All-Ireland Decathlon Championships.

Hill also excelled in the Canadian veterans’ Olympics and the World Championships in Helsinki, Sweden, winning medals in both competitions.

Wilber Hollinger, who has had a long association with East Antrim Harriers, paid tribute to his colleague.

“Hill will be missed by everyone connected with the club. He was always a friendly and approachable person, and was always there to offer advice to younger members,” said Mr Hollinger.

Tributes have been paid to Hill on social media.

Ian Moore said: “One of Ballyclare’s finest and most respected gentlemen. Deepest sympathy to family circle.”

Diane McGregor commented: “A true gentleman. So sorry to hear this.”

Outside of athletics, Hill had a great interest in other sports and had a passion for snooker especially. He also played golf to a good standard.

Sporting traditions were woven into his family history, as his father James, who served in both World Wars, had played for Ballyclare Comrades in their early years.

Hill was married to Vera and they had two children, Sharon and Paul.

Pre-deceased by Paul, who passed away in 2013 aged 50, Hill is survived by Vera, Sharon, and grandchildren Matthew, Kyle, Meredith Clare, Jordana and Benjamin.