Tributes to Cumbria wildlife worker who died taking part in fell race

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Stephen Owen
Stephen Owen

Friends and colleagues of a man who died while taking part in a Cumbrian fell race have paid tribute to "one of the nicest people you could meet".

Stephen Owen, 37, of Penrith, died while competing in the in the annual Loughrigg Fell Race near Ambleside.

Fellow runners, off duty medics and volunteers from Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue tried unsuccessfully to revive him. The Great North Air Ambulance Service also attended at around 7.30pm last Wednesday.

Shaun Silson, chairman of Eden Runners, said: "Stephen was one of nature's gentleman, he always had a twinkle in his eye and was one of those people whom you immediately liked.

"He joined Eden Runners just under a year ago and was a talented and popular runner who particularly enjoyed running on the fells.

"Stephen and his partner Katie were soulmates who enjoyed adventures and the outdoor life together. No-one will ever forget his dramatic late entrance to last year's annual dinner when he arrived resplendent in full highland dress with kilt.

"His loss is a real tragedy and he will be missed by everyone at the club.

"Stephen's untimely death was completely unpredictable and came as a great shock."

Kevin Scott, northern reserves officer at Cumbria Wildlife Trust, where Mr Owen worked, said: "He was just one of the nicest people you could meet. He was a genuinely nice person.

"He was very kind, very generous with his time. He never had a cross word or an unpleasant word to say about anyone and I never met anyone who had a bad word to say about him."

Mr Owen joined Cumbria Wildlife Trust in April last year, having previously worked for the RSPB in Scotland. He worked as a reserve and training officer at Eycott Hill and was responsible for all the reserve related management work.

Mr Scott said: "He was extremely good at his work. I was his line manager and he made my life very easy which was great from my perspective.

"He was one of those guys who just put his head down and got on with it. I was always happy in the knowledge that I could entirely rely on the face that he was going to get everything done as it should be and on time.

"He absolutely loved the work. He was really, really passionate about wildlife and nature conservation in the wider context."

A national newspaper reported that his partner, Katie Milburn, paid tribute to Mr Owen saying he was her best friend, adventure companion and the most beautiful human she'd ever met.

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