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'He never got to use his golf clubs' - parents' sad tribute to Rory McIlroy's cancer battler pal Caleb

By Joanne Fleming

Published 09/04/2015

Caleb (back, second left) in a treasured family portrait
Caleb (back, second left) in a treasured family portrait

The parents of Caleb Overton have paid tribute to their "amazing" little boy who died just months after capturing the heart of golfing legend Rory McIlroy.

Caleb, who battled a rare childhood cancer, passed away on Thursday at just 11-years-old.

Caleb was at Rory's side last October when the world No 1 officially opened the Daisy Lodge retreat centre for children with cancer and their families.

Afterwards Rory, who donated £1m from his charitable foundation to the Co Down centre, posed for photos with Caleb which went around the world and said he had been "touched" by the experience.

Caleb's mother Sandra Overton remembers how he jumped at the chance to pose with the sports star and happily talked to the media about his experiences at Daisy Lodge.

She said happy memories such as this one would be treasured in their grief.

"He loved it," she recalled.

"He knew all about Rory and liked golf. He loved crazy golf.

"Two weeks ago he got given a whole set of clubs but he never got the chance to use them.

"He loved talking to Rory and Rory seemed to be very fond of him."

Describing the happy-go-lucky nature of Caleb's personality, Sandra said: "He just loved everybody. He would go out of his way to make them happy. He was just amazing. He was very outgoing."

As well leaving behind mum Sandra and dad Lee, Caleb was a twin brother of Jared.

He is also survived by his older sister Kyria (14) and younger brother Micah (6).

"They are doing amazingly well," said Sandra.

"His twin brother has the odd moment when he is sad but I do not think any of us have had time to think."

Caleb was found to have a tumour on his spine, known as a spinal PNET, shortly before his eighth birthday.

Sandra explained that they had been prepared for his passing following recent medical tests but did not know how long he had left.

At all times, she said, their priority was for Caleb to lead as normal a life as possible.

"Caleb loved school," Sandra said.

"He would try to do everything the same as everyone else.

"He loved science and wanted to be an inventor when he grew up.

"He just loved talking to people."

Dad Lee added: "He was always there for everyone. In a group of people he was always the first to say hello, the first to go up and start chatting."

The Overton family, who live in Dundonald, also said their faith as Jehovah's Witnesses has helped them cope with Caleb's passing.

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