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Highgate community mourns Boyzone star

PUBLISHED: 11:03 15 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:29 07 September 2010

NEIGHBOURS have paid tribute to the late Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, who despite his celebrity status was a down-to-earth member of the Highgate community. Gately, who lived off Hornsey Lane with his partner Andrew Cowles, was found dead

NEIGHBOURS have paid tribute to the late Boyzone singer Stephen Gately, who despite his celebrity status was a down-to-earth member of the Highgate community.

Gately, who lived off Hornsey Lane with his partner Andrew Cowles, was found dead in the couple's apartment in Majorca at the weekend.

His sudden death has devastated his family and friends in his native Ireland and his thousands of fans across the world but also the many traders and residents of Highgate who had got to know him over the years.

Stephen Worswick, who runs Highgate Travel, became a good friend to the 33-year-old singer.

He said: "We are all very upset by what has happened. He was a lovely, lovely person and a real asset to the village. He was a real warm-hearted person.

"He would often be seen walking through the village and he knew a lot of the people here. He was very popular.

"What happened to him is more than tragic. I am sure the whole village would unite in saying it was great having him here."

Phyllis Harper, who owns Highgate Butchers, was also close friend of Gately's and he invited her along to support him when he was a contestant on the BBC's celebrity talent contest Dancing on Ice.

Ms Harper, who the Ham&High was unable to contact this week, is believed to be shattered by the news of her friend.

Unlike many celebrities Gately was not one to hide away behind closed doors away from the glare of the local community.

He was often seen socialising in the village's pubs as well as at community events where he was happy to be photographed by the Ham&High. Vaso Louca, one of the bosses at BBC3 hair salon on Highgate High Street remembers Gately fondly.

She told the Ham&High: "Everyone here is heartbroken. We all feel for Andrew, his partner and for all his family. He was a lovely soul. He was always really friendly and would chat to anyone. He was always around, wearing that typically smiley face. He will be terribly missed."

And even after burglars raided his home and stole jewellery worth £80,000 last July, Gately refused to consider leaving the village he loved.

He told the Ham&High at the time: "I really love Highgate and wouldn't move away for the world. It has a great vibe and the people here are brilliant."

In that raid Gately lost a Rolex watch which he had bought along with the other members of Boyzone when they received their first ever pay cheque.

Gately's death was all the more untimely because he had recently reunited with his old band and was looking forward to the release of their new album.

Ms Louca added: "He was going really well. I went to the last Boyzone show and at the party after they were all having such a good time. They loved being together again."

On Thursday a post mortem held on the Spanish island of Majorca established that Gately had died of natural causes, with the cause of death being a pulmonary Oedema or build up of fluid on the lungs.

It was reported he had been on a night out the evening before his death but there were no signs of suspicious circumstances.

His body will be flown home to Ireland in the coming days.

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