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Tributes to policewoman killed in horse riding accident

Tributes have been paid to a Co Down policewoman who has been killed in a horse riding accident in Ballygowan.

Claire Lowe was participating in a hunting event in the Mill Line area on Wednesday afternoon when she fell from her horse.

It is understood paramedics attended but Ms Lowe died at the scene.

The 39-year-old was heavily involved in horse riding and ran Mill House Equestrian Centre in Saintfield.

She was also a serving police constable and the Police Service of Northern Ireland led tributes to her on Thursday.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City District Commander, Superintendent Sean Wright paid tribute to her:

“Claire was in the prime of her life.

We all knew of her love for horses and for her sport, but we also knew her for being a committed police officer who found challenge and reward in serving the local community and in keeping people safe throughout the Lisburn and Castlereagh District.

– Superintendent Sean Wright, PSNI Lisburn & Castlereagh

“Claire was an experienced and professional police officer with six years’ service," Superintendent Wright said.

“Claire’s untimely death has caused shock amongst her friends and colleagues across PSNI.

"She will be very much missed by all of us and her loss will be deeply felt for a long time to come.” He added: “Our thoughts are with Claire’s family and friends at this tragic and difficult time.”

People from across the Northern Ireland horse riding community have also paid tribute to the popular sportswoman.

Peter Murdock, from Murdock Saddleries in Drumbo, said Ms Lowe was a regular customer at his shop and many customers have expressed their shock about what has happened.

“They are gutted here," he said.

"It’s just a freak accident - it’s not that often you would hear of that sort of accident out in the hunt field, it’s just unbelievable.

“I’ve never heard of a girl as well liked, and as well known. It’s very sad.”

Neill McCluskey, from Carsonstown Sporthorses in Lisburn, said Ms Lowe was an “amazing person who will be dearly missed”. Kilkeel woman Rach Baird, who is involved with River Lodge Stables, described her shock, saying Ms Lowe had been in her yard the night before the tragedy took place.

She said she was a “lovely pleasant woman – who loved her horses – and will be dearly missed by a lot of people.”

The Health and Safety Executive confirmed it is not investigating the incident.