A FERMANAGH man who was working as an air traffic controller in the Middle East has died, a matter of months after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of liver cancer.

Father of two, Mark Anthony Hallett, originally from Enniskillen, passed away in Abu Dhabi surrounded by his family and friends.

Warm tributes have been paid to the 44 year old, who had been living in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with his wife, Neesha, and sons Kyan and Eden.

Initially diagnosed with cancer of the liver in December last year, the former pupil of St. Michael’s College was being cared for at the Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi.

However, while undergoing treatment for the aggressive form of Stage 4 liver cancer, he developed an infection.

The medical centre in Abu Dhabi exhausted all possible options in treating his illness there.

As his condition worsened, an online campaign was launched by his friends and family to raise the money required to send him to Germany to get him the treatment he needed.

But, just days after the fundraising began, Mark sadly lost his battle against cancer on Saturday, March 24.

A memorial service for the Fermanagh man was held in St. Joseph’s Church in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, March 28, followed by cremation in Al Foah district in Al Ain on the following day.

Meanwhile, a month’s mind Mass has been arranged in St Michael’s Church, Enniskillen for Saturday, April 21, at 11am.

The popular air traffic controller was a son of Anthony and Maureen Hallett, of Chanterhill Park and previously of Hillview Road in Enniskillen, and a brother to Angela, Gary, Shane and Aideen.

He has been described as a “true gentleman” who left an indelible mark on those he met with his easygoing, affable and gentle nature.

His brother Gary told the Impartial Reporter said that seeing everyone visit Mark in hospital over the past few months, and hearing all of their little stories, had brought “great comfort” to the family.

He said: “Mark made some amazing friendships from across the world and this was testament to him, as they were with him until the end.

“Even as a child Mark was very strong-willed and always found the best in every situation.

“He never got upset or annoyed about things, always moved forward with a smile and a laugh.

“No hurdle was too big. He was often described as being so laidback and will always be ‘pure legend’.”

During his younger days, Mark was educated firstly at St. Michael’s Primary School, before continuing his studies at St. Michael’s College.

He was passionate about sport.

As a teenager, he joined the cross-community rowing club at Portora and went on to coach the ladies rowing club at Queen’s University, Belfast.

His first job was as a pool attendant at the Fermanagh Lakeland Forum.

After studying Psychology at Queen’s, he went on to do Business Management. However, an advertisement in the paper looking for Air Traffic Controllers for Ireland caught his eye.

He applied, excelled in all of the exams and was offered a post in Shannon Airport, which he accepted.

After the 9/11 terror attacks, the number of air travellers declined and Shannon Airport agreed to grant a career break to many of its air traffic controllers.

Mark took this opportunity to move to Abu Dhabi and, through time, progressed in his career to become an ATC Team Leader, Operational Projects.

His brother, Gary, said that Mark had made an “incredible life” for himself and his family in Abu Dhabi.

He said: “It was there that he met the love of his life, Neesha, and they married in Bali in 2008. They were blessed with two beautiful boys, Kyan and Eden, of whom Mark was very proud. He always made sure that they were aware of their roots with many trips back to Ireland and Malaysia.”

Paying a poignant tribute to his brother, Gary added: “Your suffering is over, you are cleared for take off, go fly. Rest in peace Mark xx”

Shortly after arriving in Abu Dhabi in 2004, Mark joined the Na Fianna GAA Club in the city. He travelled throughout the region representing the club at various tournaments.

A statement posted on the Na Fianna Facebook page after his death paid tribute to their “good friend and long time club patron”.

“He left an indelible mark on those he met with his easy going, affable, gentle nature and could only be described as a gentleman. He will truly be missed here in Abu Dhabi,” the club stated.