'An amazing mother and beautiful woman' - tributes paid to Irish model Alli MacDonnell
Tributes have been paid to the well-known Irish model Alli MacDonnell who passed away suddenly.
Autism Ireland CEO Samantha Judge said Ms MacDonnell was an "amazing mother" and a tireless campaigner for autism.
The mother of four (37), who was from Rathfarnham, passed away this morning.
In recent years she fronted campaigns for Autism Ireland after her younger son was diagnosed with the condition.
“Here at Autism Ireland, we are very shocked and saddened at the loss of Alli," Ms Judge said.
“Alli was an amazing mother, a beautiful woman, inside and out.
“She was a very strong voice for autism as a mother, and she was so supportive of her children and of the charity.
“She will be a great loss to us. Alli worked tirelessly to raise awareness of autism.
“She was a great friend and an amazing ambassador for Autism Ireland.
“We could call her and ask for her help at any time and she worked with us whenever we needed her."
Ms Judge said Ms MacDonnell was preparing for their next awareness day on April.
“We had talked recently about World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
“We were thinking what would we do this year. Ali was part of what we do in such a huge way. She was one of us.
“She was always helping. Last year, when we were selling blue noses in Dundrum, she was going to turn work down just so she could stay and volunteer, talking about autism.
“But I told her to go to work, that I’d mind her son and she went.
“But the fact Alli was going to stay ahead of work was because helping raise awareness of autism was so important to her.
“She was truly an inspirational person and we are all grieving a huge loss today.”
John Compton, a close friend of Ms MacDonnell and her former model agent also paid tribute.
“Alli lived for her four kids, she was a brilliant mum and her kids were her world."
John who last spoke to the model on Sunday said the Dubliner was “very involved with Autism because both of her two youngest children were on the spectrum and she was very passionate about that subject and to help where she could. ”
Working as an ambassador for the Irish Autism Action charity, John said Alli had been in discussion about working on a TV project on that topic.
“There was loads going on for her in a positive way. There were a couple of shows in talks with her, one of them was about autism. This is all so sad. Alli had her whole life in front of her, I just can’t believe it, she was my best friend," John said.
He recalled how the two met when Alli walked into the agency years ago and asked if she could join.
“Ali was such a great model, always reliable and even when I closed the agency, we stayed friends. In fact, we became even better friends because there wasn’t the work element involved.
“There’s a gang of our friends here in my house today, we all want to be together. We are having our own little wake because we can’t believe that she’s gone.”
A regular face on Ireland AM where she modelled in fashion slots, Alli was mum to Sienna (2), Harry (9) and she had two older teenager children.
Valerie Roe who runs a PR and events agency recalled working with Alli. “She was a single mum, life was hard but she lived for her kids, that was my abiding memory".
Gardaí have confirmed to Independent.ie they are treating Alli's death as a "personal tragedy".
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article please contact Samaritans helpline 116 123 or Aware helpline 1800 80 48 48 or Pieta House on 1800 247 247.