Tragic 22-year-old sports student dies of heart attack


A TRAGIC sports student who jogged every day has died of a heart attack aged just 22.

Gael Mackinnon collapsed on Sunday morning after a night out with friends during which she talked about her plans for the future.

Gael, who worked part-time as a barmaid, was enjoying a sports science degree at Edinburgh University.

Gail was sporty and enjoyed jogging daily.


Just days before she died, a joyful Gael had been reunited with her brother, Euan, after he returned from Australia.

Her 24-year-old sister, Dawn, broke the news to friends on Facebook, writing: “She died after a heart attack.

“I can’t express how amazing she was. Many thanks for everyone’s support, she was truly loved by everyone.”

Gael, from Bathgate, West Lothian, grew up on a farm, and attended the Rudolph Steiner School in Edinburgh.

Her brother, Euan, is understood to live in Australia and flew back to Scotland on Friday.

An excited Gael wrote on her Facebook page that day: “Off to get Euan Mackinnon at the airport.”

She told close friends it was the first time she, Euan and Dawn had been together for a long time.

Gael was known at the pub where she worked for never taking a day off sick in four years.

Brenda Henderson, manager of the Southsider pub in Newington, Edinburgh, said: “She was just the most gorgeous barmaid, very bubbly and so loved by every member of staff and customers.

“We always said she was the most gorgeous barmaid at the Southsider, but she was also hard working and reliable – if anyone needed a shift covered, she would be the first person I asked.”

She added: “We are still in a complete state of shock. She was very healthy and never took a day sick off work. Gael used to jog around Arthur’s Seat everyday and planned to talk part in a Moonwalk for charity this year.

“She also enjoyed practising her sports massage skills on other members of staff.

“It is really sad because before she died she was the happiest I had ever seen her.

“When she didn’t turn up for work on Sunday it was the first time she had missed a shift and I was just so shocked when her aunt called us to say what had happened.

“Gael was really enjoying her sport therapy course at Edinburgh University and also loved being on her family’s farm. She particularly enjoyed lambing and things like that.”

The student’s love of sport and adventure took her to Cuba two years ago, where she went rock climbing with friends.

Gael’s friends paid moving tribute to the tragic youngster on her Facebook page.

One friend, Connor Stewart, said: I’m really going to miss your cheery attitude to life, you were such a hard working person and still managed to stay smiling no matter how hard your busy life got.

“Nothing will be the same without you, the bus trips past the sea will always remind me of you. Thank you so much for all that you gave me and I hope you are in a better place, Goodbye

Evelyn Jellema, who had known Gael since her school days, said: “I am devastated that the world has taken such a wonderful life from us, you were the kindest, sunniest person I have ever had the privilege to know and I will miss you more than words can say. love you always and forever more, rest in peace.”

Rachel Barr added: “My beautiful friend, I can’t believe that you are gone. I’m completely devastated and can think of nothing to say other than that I have a million things I wanted to tell you.

“My time with you will always be in my thoughts and I know you have touched the lives of so many others and will live on in their memories too. I wish with all my heart that you would come back now but, failing that, please rest in peace. I love you.”