THE Mackay community is in shock following the news Mick Pope passed away suddenly earlier this evening.

CASANDRA GARVEY reports for the MACKAY MERCY that Mr Pope was instrumental in organising the Mackay Airport Beach Horse Racing Festival, an event that has quickly shot to the top of the must-do events in Mackay.

Friends and family tonight have left tributes to Mick on his Facebook page, 

"Kinda lost for words atm...Goodbye Uncle left so suddenly...the sky has another new star shining tonight... love to all the family xox" Amber Pope wrote.

Kevin Pope added, "Mick you were jokin us, right? you made us laugh so much, fun was life!! and love you!! your heart of gold! talk about knock our socks off, or rip our hearts out, take our spirit away! you did, mate. is heaven even ready for this? light the place up mate! God bless you bro."

Aaron Craig posted, "RIP mate.. From the old Mguires days till now would always stop for a beer and a chat.. See you up there one day mate for a cold one.."

Brooke Finato wrote: "I can't believe what I'm reading! R.i.p Mick, was nice knowing you and working with you with the beach races in Mackay. This is so devastating."

Sammy KM Munt left a message of tribute to Mick: "Never in my life have I wanted to be told that a nightmare isn't real like I do right now. I don't know what happened or where you've gone or how someone could dare take you from us, but I do know that this will be a darker world without your light.  My thoughts go out to your friends and family- but you made everyone feel like a friend or family and I know that because for ten years, you were the closest thing to a father and a mentor that I've ever known. Miss you forever, Mick."

"Very saddened to hear of this news," Andrew Pippia wrote. "Rest in peace Mick Pope. Was a privilege to pack into those scrums with you and also wait for your inevitable offload in heavy traffic. Was even better to chat over a beer whenever our paths crossed, be it in Bundy or Mackay. A wonderful, kind-hearted, cheeky, fun-loving, entrepreneurial thinker who lit up the lives of so many he came in contact with. Vale a great guy."