DERBYSHIRE trainee doctor Neil Dalton, stabbed to death in Borneo, has been hailed as an “excellent” and “highly committed” award-winning student.
Tributes from friends and neighbours have flooded in to Neil, of Ambergate, and his fellow student, Aidan Brunger, after they were killed in the Kuching area of Borneo.
The medical students, both 22, were on a six-week hospital placement along with five other students when it is thought they were attacked by a group of men after a night out on Tuesday.
Among those paying tribute to Mr Dalton was Martyn Cooper, head teacher at Belper School.
He said: “Neil was always a fully engaged and promising student, whose decision to enter the medical profession was encouraged by Belper School.
“Our memories of him are of a vibrant and interested young man, who enjoyed his studies and made contributions to many events.
“He was a particularly able mathematician, winning several awards during his school years.
“We are saddened to hear the terrible news of his death and the staff and students extend their sympathies to his relatives and friends.”
Jamie Deeming, a team mate at Belper Amateurs Cricket Club, has praised his personality and said he would be a big loss to the club.
Jamie, who had known Neil since he was 10, said: “I can’t say anything glowing enough about him. Everybody loved him.
“People often say that but in this case it’s true.
“He was a good cricketer who preferred football! He was a lovely lad. Everybody at the club will miss him.”
Residents on the street on which he is believed to have lived said his friendly personality and red hair will be missed.
Philip Blount, of Newbridge Road, said he helped out other people on the street.
He said: “He was a grand lad, a little bit shy because he kept himself to himself.
“I only saw his mum and dad on Monday night. Everybody on the street will show a lot of respect.”
Michael Bell said he knew him as part of a group of other friends who were destined for great things.
He said: “He came from a young group of five boys who all did really well.
“They are a very well known family and very close.
“Neil would always say hello. It’s a terrible shame for the family and for the lad.”
John Hall said it was shocking news.
He said: “He was a quiet boy. It is quite a shock this has come so close to Ambergate. It’s awful.”
Commenting on Facebook, Emma JP Punter said: “I’m going to bed tonight with a heavy heart.
“The names on the news are not always someone you don’t know. Neil Dalton was killed a long way from home but he will be missed and remembered by many.
“I can’t begin to imagine how his parents must feel.
“Condolences to Neil’s family and friends at this awful time. Our daughter is Neil’s friend and she is stunned and devastated.”
Gemma Roberts, also commenting on Facebook, said: “I met Neil at a local Red Cross group when he was doing his GCSEs.
“He had great aspirations to become a doctor even then. Never have I met such a lovely, polite and well-rounded young man.
“My thoughts are with his poor family and friends. Sleep tight, Neil.”
Speaking yesterday, Professor Jane Calvert, Dean of Undergraduate Studies for Newcastle University Medical School, said Neil and Aidan were “excellent” and “highly committed” students who were doing well.
She said: “We heard this morning about the tragic death of two of our students who were working out in east Malaysia.
“They were doing what thousands of medical students do every year, they were on an elective to experience clinical practice in a different setting, to learn from that and enhance their practice when they came back.
“I didn’t know them personally but they were well known by the programme director and teachers on the course and we are all so shocked and saddened.
“They were excellent students, they were doing really well with their studies, they were highly committed and coming back next year to work as doctors.
“Aidan was aspiring to do some medical research on his return, Neil was going straight into his final year and it’s such a tragic thing to occur.”
Reports in a Malaysian newspaper say the victims were found lying in the road with stab wounds in the chest and back and Malaysian police say four men have been arrested.
Officers also seized a knife and other exhibits during their investigations, Sarawak deputy commissioner of police DCP Datuk Dr Chai Khin Chung said.
University staff are flying out to the island to support the other students and get them home safely.
Professor Tony Stevenson, acting vice chancellor at Newcastle University, said: “We were informed on Wednesday morning of the very sad news that two of our fourth year medical students working at a hospital in Kuching, Borneo, have been tragically killed.
“Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger, both 22, were on a six-week work placement along with five other medical students to put the skills they had learnt during their time here at the university into practice.
“This has come as a huge shock to us all and our thoughts are with their families and friends at this very difficult time.
“Two of our members of staff are flying out to Kuching as soon as possible and we are working closely with the British High Commissioner to support the other students and to co-ordinate their return to the UK.”
A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We are aware of the deaths of two British nationals in Malaysia on August 5.
“We are providing consular assistance to their families at this difficult time.”