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Golf boss dead at beauty spot.

Byline: Deborah James and Alan Weston

FAMILY and friends were in shock last night after the body of a high-profile Merseyside golf club boss was found in a Lancashire beauty spot.

John Barrington-Fortune,53,manager of Formby Hall Golf Club, was reported missing from his home near Southport yesterday morning.

Police last night confirmed they are investigating an apparent suicide,after a body fitting Mr Barrington-Fortune's description was found in the Trough of Bowland,east of Lancaster just after 9 am yesterday.

It is belie ved the married father-of-two killed himself after driving up to the secluded beauty spot,popular with walkers,in his Mercedes estate car on Monday.

He was reported missing from his home at Clive Road,Birkdale at around 8.30am yesterday.

Last night,at the large semi-detached home he shared with his wife Sandra,his family were trying to come to terms with the devastating news.

The couple have two grown- up children - son Garry , 29,of nearby Churchtown, who is catering manager for JJB Sports, and daughter Ashley, 26, a prosthetic doctor who lives in Gosport,Hampshire.

Garry said last night: ``My father just loved life and what's happened is very upsetting. We don't know the ins and outs yet but he must have been under a lot of pressure.''

Flags at the entrance to the golf club were flying at half-mast last night and the bar was desert ed.

Last night devastated friends and associates paid tribute to ``a larger than life character'', and a dedicated ``family man''.

Mr Barrington-Fortune,originally from the Newcastle area, was well known in the Sefton business and golfing communities.

He had been manager at Formby Hall Golf Club since it opened seven years ago.

During that time, he oversaw ongoing expansion of the golf course and facilities,and masterminded exciting plans currently being considered to establish Britain's first Professional Golfers Association-backed amateur golfing academy.

He also secured several high profile fixtures for the club, including the Steve Redgrave Golden Five charity challenge last summer, and the English Seniors Open,due to go ahead late this summer.

Management were last night telephoning members to break the news. One member who did not wish to be named, told the Daily Post: ``It has knocked us all for six, we are ab solutely stunned and devastated.''

``John has been here since the club opened, he was well liked and will be missed terribly, it hasn't really sunk in yet.''

No-one was available to make an official comment for the golf club.

Inspector Steve Sansbury,force incident manager at Lancashire Police last night confirmed officers are investigating an ``apparent suicide'' after a body was discovered in the Trough of Bowland.

The death is expected to be investigated by either Lancashire or Sefton Coroner's Office following a post mortem.

CAPTION(S):

WELL LIKED: John Barrington-Fortune
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jan 28, 2004
Words:472
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