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Ulster sponsor Hospice light in Jack Kyle's honour

By Ali Gordon

Ulster stars Iain Henderson and Stuart Olding gave up some of their precious recovery time yesterday to honour one of the game's greatest heroes, Jack Kyle.

The talented duo were at Kyle's former school, Belfast Royal Academy, to support the Northern Ireland Hospice's Lights to Remember Appeal by sponsoring a light on the Christmas tree, in remembrance of the Irish rugby legend who passed away at the end of November.

Kyle, who won 46 caps for Ireland and six for the Lions, will be remembered as one of Ireland's greatest ever sportsmen.

His light will be lit tonight on the Hospice Christmas tree at Somerton House along with thousands of others who are remembering their loved ones this Christmas.

Olding and Henderson, who have both been inspired by Kyle's spectacular achievements, have had lengthy battles with injuries this season.

While Ulster fans will have another few weeks to wait until lock Henderson makes a comeback, following an operation on his hip, things are looking promising for Olding's return this weekend after a nasty concussion in the first Scarlets encounter this month.

Henderson revealed: "The recovery process has been tough. I'd tried a few different treatments over the last few months, between injections and resting, until I realised that I needed an operation.

"I went across to Coventry and got one (an operation) and it's been a return to running and standard protocol things since.

"I started by using the Alter-G (an anti-gravity treadmill) and have been having a lot of physio and rehab to get myself back into it."

The 22-year-old added: "Hopefully I'll be playing again in the early part of the new year."

Speaking at the special remembrance service held at Belfast Royal Academy, chair of the Northern Ireland Hospice Development Board, Dominic Walsh said: "It's fantastic to see the Ulster Rugby team and Belfast Royal Academy pay tribute to Jack in this way, whilst also supporting Northern Ireland Hospice.

"This Christmas, many people will be missing someone they have lost.

"Sponsoring a light on the Hospice tree is a special way to remember them, whilst supporting local people with terminal illnesses and their families."

Last year over 5,000 families and individuals sponsored a light on the Christmas tree in memory of a loved one.

This year, Northern Ireland Hospice is aiming to raise £200,000 through the Lights to Remember appeal in a quest to provide sought-after care for patients over the Christmas period.

To sponsor a light, visit www.nihospice.org or call 02890 777123.

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