Funeral is held for doctor who leaves a ‘tangible legacy of achievement’

A funeral service was held for widely respected Mourne man, Dr. Arthur Mitchell MBE, earlier this week in Kilkeel, County Down.
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Dr. Mitchell was originally from Downpatrick, but moved to the Mourne area and became an advocate for environmental welfare there.

He was well-known by many in the Mourne area, with his GP practice based in Kilkeel town.

In his spare time, he thoroughly enjoyed walking in the mountains and spending time at Cranfield, which led to an even greater interest in the environment around him.

Dr. Arthur Mitchell MBE pictured in the Mournes. Image: Mourne Heritage Trust.Dr. Arthur Mitchell MBE pictured in the Mournes. Image: Mourne Heritage Trust.
Dr. Arthur Mitchell MBE pictured in the Mournes. Image: Mourne Heritage Trust.

His contribution to protecting the environment began back in the ‘70s when he was a driving force behind a community group whose campaign saw a controversial reservoir scheme set aside on environmental grounds.

The Department of the Environment recognised Dr. Mitchell’s passion and nominated him to its statutory advisory body, the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, which soon set up its own Mourne Committee.

This then led to the Mournes Advisory Committee being established.

It was Dr. Mitchell, again, who encouraged the set-up of an enhanced, locally-based structure with practical management capacity and, so, Mourne Heritage Trust was formed in 1997.

Dr. Arthur Mitchell MBE. Image: Mourne Heritage Trust.Dr. Arthur Mitchell MBE. Image: Mourne Heritage Trust.
Dr. Arthur Mitchell MBE. Image: Mourne Heritage Trust.

Dr. Mitchell was elected as the first chairman of Mourne Heritage Trust and remained in the role until September 2009, when he took up the position of vice-chairman.

In total, Dr. Mitchell served 23 years as a board member.

A spokesperson for Mourne Heritage Trust stated: “Throughout, the Trust prospered under Arthur’s committed and knowledgeable guidance, acting as a ‘pathfinder’ for landscape management in Northern Ireland, navigating through changes in government structures and seeking to ensure that the well-being of the Mourne area and its communities was given appropriate priority.

“This enabled Mourne Heritage Trust to develop approaches to erosion control and path repair, wildfire control, restoration of vernacular buildings, promotion of sustainable tourism and other activities that gained national and international recognition.”

Dr. Mitchell’s contribution to nature conservation was celebrated in 2012, when he was awarded the prestigious Alfred Toepfer Medal by Europarc Federation.

He contributed to the boards of the NI Rural Development Council and the Ulster Community Investment Trust.

The Mourne Heritage Trust spokesperson added: “He leaves a tangible legacy of achievement that is profound and which many who encountered him have been inspired to build upon.

“But, formidable as that legacy is, it is in the affection of those who knew him best that his memory will perhaps most sustain.

“To Arthur’s wife Wilma, sons Brian, David and Paul, granddaughters and family circle, we extend our deepest sympathies.

“Arthur loved the Mournes and we in Mourne Heritage Trust will miss him.

“It was truly our privilege to know him.

“We will honour his lifelong commitment in continuing to work with partners to protect and enhance the Mourne landscape for the well-being of its communities.”