Squadron Leader Paul Lipscomb, Officer Commanding, Mountain Rescue Service at RAF Kinloss, said:
"Ant's unbeatable enthusiasm inspired others to climb well above their grade' and succeed in all tasks; or at least, in the face of failure, to earn the bragging rights to an epic hill day. He is a one of the best examples of the courage and commitment that has typified RAF Mountain Rescue Team members for nearly 70 years.
"He was also a good friend, who I had hoped would succeed me as the Commanding Officer and his infectious sense of adventure would have strengthened and enriched it for all. I have been lucky enough to know Ant Downing for over 10 years, first as an engineer and then more true to his spirit as a Mountaineer, and in the same way as if he had died in an avalanche or a fall helping others in the mountains, then I can draw some comfort in knowing that he died doing something that he enjoyed and chose to do, what's more he will have made a positive difference to all those he worked with."
"Outside of work he was an outstanding athlete, a passionate mountaineer and an adventurous traveller whose sheer energy and enthusiasm for life knew no bounds."
Warrant Officer Chris Miles
Sergeant Ed Jones, Deputy Team Leader, Mountain Rescue Service at RAF Kinloss, said:
"Ant quickly showed himself to be an exemplary Team Member who inspired all with his great fitness and endurance. Mountain Rescue work is by its nature demanding but not for Ant who would often (even after a challenging weekend) cycle from a remote Bothy' back to Kinloss just for extra training. Once when recovering from an injury that kept him off the mountains he cycled 220 km so as not to lose any fitness! Often the training was for a competition in which he regularly took part. These including several Iron Man's along with a 24 hr endurance event in which he helped raise £6,000 for Breast Cancer UK. For many these events would be enough in themselves but for Ant they were just another adventure for he was a true adventurer at heart.
"He had travelled extensively round the world and we had many a long conversation about places we had been and wished to go. Ant completed many of his trips alone showing great self reliance, determination and trust in his fellow man. On one epic journey he cycled across America despite having to put up with searing heat and swerving juggernauts.
"Perhaps Ant's greatest strength was his humility, before joining the RAF he was a volunteer for the Samaritans often helping others in their darkest hours. He was rarely interested in rank or status being more concerned with the person and often encouraged others to achieve things they previously thought impossible.
"Ant you were a truly great friend. You are gone now but I will never forget our adventures in the mountains. Goodnight, God bless."
Corporal Dave Gleave, Party Leader, Mountain Rescue Service at RAF Kinloss, said:
"Ant was a friend, leader and above all a gentleman. He possessed the ability to inspire and the confidence to make anything seem possible, his only obvious weakness was a total dependency on tea. Knowing Ant was just to be part of the adventure that was his life. Most chapters of which seem to start with, "I've got an idea" and end mildly hypothermic clutching a brew! He died living part of that adventure."
I shall re-post here what I put up on the thread in the 'Afghanistan' forum:
Ant Downing was a kind, intelligent, focused and charming officer. He led our group on the 3 Peaks' Challenge in autumn 2010, and his obvious sensitivity to others' difficulties, love for the mountains and incredible drive held the group together. His simple pleasure in watching the sunrise from the top of Snowdon was the measure of the man.
He was supremely fit - he entered super-endurance events almost casually, and excelled in them. He drove others to succeed as well, without ever criticising or comparing. His encouragement and congratulations when I did a half marathon were exactly the same as when another colleague did a full one; they would have been just as fulsome and genuine had someone swum the Atlantic or cycled across America - the latter a feat Ant himself accomplished during one set of POTL.
It was always a pleasure to sit and talk with him over coffee or supper. I shall miss him.