Belfast Telegraph

Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary donates £100k he won at Down Royal to youth charity

By Linda Stewart

Ryanair may not be known for its generosity to passengers, but the airline's multi-millionaire boss Michael O'Leary has shown he is no Scrooge this Christmas.

The outspoken businessman has provided a massive boost to YouthAction NI by donating a six-figure sum to the Belfast charity.

O'Leary was a guest of the charity earlier this year when he was invited to speak to young people about the secret of his success. He caused a stir when he pledged to hand over any winnings he might make at the Down Royal Festival of Racing.

True to his word, when O'Leary's Westmeath-based Gigginstown stable took home €100,000 from three races, the money was handed over.

YouthAction NI chief executive June Trimble said the donation would help more 14 to 25-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds to gain qualifications and jobs. She said: "When he visited us in Belfast, Michael had very clear messages for young people.

"He told them to persevere, to work hard and also to enjoy what they did. This incredibly generous donation will make a considerable difference to the lives of young people across Northern Ireland.

James Nicholson, Down Royal chairman and vice chairman of YouthAction NI, added: "Michael O'Leary was a much-welcomed and inspirational guest of YouthAction in October.

"To pledge his Down Royal winnings was amazingly kind, but even more so considering the substantial sum that was won by his stable.

"This incredibly gracious donation will allow the work done by YouthAction to continue apace, changing the lives of the young people we work with on a daily basis."

Taking a break from preparing for Down Royal's popular Boxing Day event, racecourse manager Mike Todd said O'Leary's success in the racing world meant this was always going to be a very generous offer.

"Gigginstown House Stud has owned many stars of the National Hunt world, including the 2006 Cheltenham Gold Cup winning horse War of Attrition," he said.

"We're delighted at their success during this year's prestigious Festival of Racing, and even more so because Youth Action NI benefited so much from this."

Background

The races and prizes won by horses from Michael O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud at the Down Royal Festival of Racing include:

  • €8,950 won by Valerian Bridge in the Archie Watson Memorial Race on Day 1
  • €32,500 won by Don Cossack in The Powers Irish Whiskey Steeplechase on Day 2
  • €84,000 won by Road To Riches in The JNwine.com Champion Steeplechase, also on Day 2

The winnings total was €125,450 (£98,178)

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