'You won't see his like again'

ALMAC'S company directors have vowed to continue the legacy of Sir Allen McClay after the group founder and chairman died unexpectedly on Tuesday.

Sir Allen passed away on Tuesday afternoon in Hahnemann University Hospital, Philadelphia, with his new wife and long-standing partner Lady Heather, as well as colleagues from Almac, at his bedside.

He had gone to the US city in November to oversee the completion of the $150m expansion in the States, but he fell seriously ill.

He and Lady Heather were married in his hospital ward in what was a very happy occasion, attended by the hospital chiefs and by a group who had travelled over from Almac.

Despite responding to treatment, he fell gravely ill earlier this week and employees were informed of his death on Tuesday evening.

His remains are being cremated at a private ceremony in America and will be returning home to Northern Ireland this weekend.

A service of remembrance to celebrate Sir Allen's life will be held here at a later date.

Almac will also be opening a book of condolence at the Seagoe plant and in company premises in America where employees can leave their own personal messages.

The firm moved swiftly to assure the 2,600 employees that their jobs are safe, and that the multi-million pound development earmarked for Portadown in the five-year plan will not be affected.

Head of development at Almac Philip Diamond said, "Sir Alan has left a structure that ensures Almac continues seamlessly. The research and development go on unabated.

"We are shell-shocked by his death. We knew things were bad and his death wasn't unexpected. But we have lost a true giant and a wonderful man."

Tributes have flowed in from the business and political world, with Acting First Minister Arlene Foster leading the way.

She described Sir Allen as "a truly inspirational entrepreneur".

For full coverage of this story, including Almac employees heartfelt tributes to Sir Allen, see this week's Portadown Times.