Man dies after choking on a piece of fish

A YOUNG spina bifida sufferer, dubbed "Mr Cheery" by his family, has died after choking on a piece of food.

Jamie MacDougall, from Loanhead, had spent much of his short life helping others.

Relatives said that despite being in a wheelchair since he was a child, the 29-year-old never let disability hold him back.

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His father, Ian MacDougall, 59, said: "Jamie will be missed by many.

"He travelled the world in his short life. It was quite difficult at times, but he just got on with it. He was prepared to take it on and he never complained.

"He was interested in life, generally, and he had a real respect for folk."

Jamie became seriously ill after choking on a piece of fish last Tuesday. It is believed his brain was starved of oxygen and he slipped into a coma. He was placed in intensive care.

His sister Jill, 33, flew home from Australia, where she has worked as a venue manager for the last four years, to be by his side with the rest of his family. He died on Thursday.

Jamie's main passion in life was football. While his mother and sister are diehard Hibs fans, Jamie was a Jambo like his dad.

Mr MacDougall said: "He was a season ticket holder at Hearts. He was also the founding member of the Hearts Disabled Supporters Club and a member of Danderhall Hearts Supporters Club.

"I think he'd been at every Scottish football ground. He loved the social side and the guys would take him on the supporters' bus, then for a few pints before the game."

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Jamie followed his beloved Hearts throughout Scotland and travelled around Europe supporting the Scottish national side.

His mother, Joyce MacDougall, 57, said: "He has had a good life; short, but good. He was a very brave, courageous young man."

He had undergone many operations and spent much of his childhood in Edinburgh's Sick Kids hospital.

Paying tribute to her younger brother, Jill said: "He was just Mr Cheery. He lit up a room. He was all about the chat and the banter, and he had a wicked sense of humour."

After leaving Gray's Mill School at the age of 18, Jamie developed an interest in Country and Western music and was a member of Crofters Country Music Club in Loanhead, Texas Rangers in Bilston and Ponderosa in Liberton. He worked on the door, ran raffles and even did a sponsored wheelchair dance to raise funds.

Described by his mother as a "people person", Jamie developed a wide social network through use of his CB radio, speaking to anyone who would listen using the handle "Lonewolf," before moving on to computers and social networking sites where he had almost 300 online contacts.

Jamie also found time to volunteer at the cafe at the Thistle Foundation and with elderly people in Craigmillar, help out with an IT group at Edinburgh University and work one day a week at Ikea.

He was also a member of Loanhead Bowling Club, where fellow members recently raised enough money to buy him a special wheelchair so he could get on to the green next season, and he joined friends at Loanhead Miners Welfare Club every Sunday.

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