'We are still in shock' - Tributes paid to Hartlepool journalist killed in robbery while working in Ghana
Tributes have been paid to a “kind” and “devoted” journalist from Hartlepool who has been tragically killed during a robbery in Ghana.
Syed Taalay Ahmed, 31, who was born and grew up in Hartlepool, died after being shot by armed robbers while on a filming mission for the London-based MTA International television station.
A vehicle he was travelling in was ambushed on the Tamale-Buipe highway in Northern Ghana on Monday, August 23, at 7pm local time.
Mr Ahmed and a local Ghanaian colleague were both hit by bullets.
They were rushed to a nearby clinic and then transferred to hospital but unfortunately Mr Ahmed was pronounced dead.
He was a well-known and loved member of Hartlepool’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community and before beginning his journalism career in London played cricket for Hartlepool, Wolviston and Hartlepool Power Station clubs.
Chris Smith, Hartlepool Cricket Club’s director of coaching, who played alongside Mr Ahmed, said: “Off the field, Taalay always seemed to be filled with life and joy.
"He had an infectious smile, and was always happy to chat with anyone about pretty much anything, all the while keeping an eye on the cricket.
"Although no longer living in the North East, Taalay still showed a keen interest in what was going on at Park Drive.
“He will be truly missed.”
Mr Ahmed’s grandfather and family were instrumental in the start and growth of an English speaking Muslim community in Hartlepool in the early 1980s which became widely known and led to a mosque in Hartlepool.
Tahir Selby, Imam of the Nasir Mosque, in Brougham Terrace, told the Mail: “We are all still in shock at the news. He was well known and well loved in Hartlepool.
"I knew him from being a young boy and he was always very kind and had a pleasant manner about him.
"He was a very dear man, always smiling, very kind and keen to help anybody.
"I never heard anybody say a bad word about him.”
Mr Selby said Mr Ahmed was more concerned about his colleagues than himself following the robbery and did not realise the seriousness of his injuries.
It was later reported that Ghanaian police had shot and killed two of the robbery suspects in a firefight and arrested four others.
Mr Ahmed was in the country working on a documentary about the charity works of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community.
In a tweet, his employers, MTA International described him as “devoted” and “sincere”.
They added: "He was a much loved member of the MTA team and produced a series of faith inspiring documentaries and programmes.
"We will miss him every day and strive to build up on the great work he did.”
Mr Ahmed went to West Park Primary School and later attended both High Tunstall College of Science and English Martyrs Sixth Form.
After completing his masters degree in journalism from Sunderland University, he started his career and worked on a number of documentaries ranging from football to faith.
Mr Ahmed is survived by his wife, two young children, parents and siblings.
His body is due to be flown back to the UK on Wednesday, September 1, and his funeral will be held in London.