Bus driver dies hours after running Belfast Marathon in aid of daughter’s school
A BELFAST bus driver has died hours after running the Belfast Marathon in aid of his daughter’s school.
Eric Watson, who was in his early 50s, took part in Monday’s Belfast Marathon as part of a relay effort with colleagues from Newtownards bus station, where he worked as a bus driver for nearly 10 years.
The team were raising funds for St Finian’s Primary School in the town, which is attended by Mr Watson’s seven-year-old daughter.
On Monday evening, hours after completing his relay effort, he died at his home.
It is understood Mr Watson — collapsed at home after his mixed relay team came home in a time of 4:26:51.
He leaves behind his wife, Maria, and their two daughters, the youngest being three.
Hugh O’Prey, headmaster of St Finian’s Primary School, who has visited Mr Watson’s devastated family, said he was a loving father and highly respected. He said: “Eric was a dedicated family man who went out of his way to help others. He will be sadly missed by the entire school community.
“The thoughts and prayers of the school community are with Eric’s family at this sorrowful time,” he added.
Mr Watson’s death comes weeks after Claire Squires collapsed and died after suffering a heart attack while running last month’s London marathon.
A charity fundraising web page set up by the 30-year-old hairdresser raised more than £1m in less than a week — with tens of thousands of people logging on from all over the world to leave donations.
Yesterday Strangford MP Jim Shannon said the circumstances of Mr Watson’s death were particularly poignant.
He said: “Whenever someone sets out to run the marathon to raise money, with all the good will that it entails, you never, ever think that the result will be that they pass away.”
He added: “Everyone liked Eric.
“He loved his children, and his children love him.
“The whole family are grieving, and we want to ensure that they understand they are in our thoughts and prayers.”