Tributes paid to ‘gentleman’ Tom Topping

Emotional tributes have been paid following the sudden death of businessman Tom Topping.

The respected member of the Larne community, who was aged in his 70s, passed away during an incident in the Rectory Road area of the town yesterday (Monday).

A PSNI spokesperson said: “The death is not being treated as suspicious at this time. Police have advised the Health and Safety Executive, and will provide assistance with their investigation.”

A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) said: “HSENI has received a report of an incident on a farm and enquiries are underway to establish the circumstances surrounding it.”

Emergency services at the scene of a serious incident on the Rectory Road, Larne. Picture: Declan Roughan / Press Eye

Mr Topping, who was late of Ballylesson Road, Magheramorne, was a well-known figure in the east Antrim area. He owned Topping Meats in Larne as well as being the former owner of the Highways Hotel in the town.

Following news of Mr Topping’s passing, poignant tributes have been paid.

Speaking to the Larne Times, former Ulster Unionist councillor Mark McKinty said: “I’m deeply saddened by this news which is sorrowing for the Magheramorne community and the wider area. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Topping family at this difficult time.

“Both our families have a long connection through farming in Magheramorne but I later came to know Tom through other avenues, particularly as one of my nominators in local government politics.

“He was a gentleman with a keen sense of humour and an abundant generosity. His business acumen was significant for the east Antrim economy but above all we’ll miss his unique character; a great and unfortunate loss.”

Expressing condolences, East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson said: “I offer my sincere sympathy to the family of Tom Topping.

“Tom was my neighbour and I counted him as a friend. The tragic circumstances of his death have left his family and those knew him stunned and sorrowful.

“As a successful businessman, Tom created jobs for hundreds of people over his lifetime, supported the local farming community, was innovative in business and supportive of many good causes in the community.

“He will be greatly missed, not only by his close family but also by all who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers go to those who are grieving the loss of a father and grandfather at this sad time.”

A spokesperson for Hospitality Ulster said: “A very sad loss, Tom was a hotelier, a farmer, and a businessman, but above all he was a devoted father and a true gentleman. He will be missed by everyone that knew him. RIP.”

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Police at scene of sudden death in Larne

A service of thanksgiving for Tom’s life will be held in his house on Saturday, August 13 at 2.30pm and afterwards to the Glynn Cemetery.

A post on the Funeral Times website said he was the “beloved husband of the late Rae” and the “loving and devoted father to Kenneth, Louise and Alan.”