Family of tragic Dean McIlwaine hold fundraising gig to thank supporters
A cousin of tragic Dean McIlwaine, the missing Newtownabbey man whose body was found on Cavehill in July, has revealed that his grief almost made him turn down a job in a new barber's shop his relative designed but never saw completed.
Jordan Malone (20), who's helping to organise a charity fundraiser tonight in his cousin's memory, said: "I didn't think I could cope with seeing Dean's photograph in the shop every day.
"He was a friend as well as a cousin and he trained me as a barber. But I eventually relented and left my old job because I wanted to do Dean proud."
Tonight's fundraiser will give Dean's family the chance to formally thank the volunteers who searched for him after he was last seen on Carnmoney Road. Friends and relatives are attending the country and western concert to raise funds for the Community Rescue Service (CRS), which spearheaded the hunt for 22-year-old Dean.
Huge numbers of people joined in the hunt, that ended nine days after Dean's disappearance with the discovery of his body.
Shortly after his funeral Dean's grieving parents Rod and Karen said they would be organising a series of money-raising events to express their gratitude to the CRS and to homeless charities including one run by SDLP councillor Paul McCusker, who helped co-ordinate the search.
The McIlwaines will also be saying thanks tonight to Davy McCrum, the man who found Dean's body. The concert in McConnell's of Doagh will be headlined by a Garth Brooks tribute act, singer Johnny Brooks.
Karen said her son was a massive country and western fan and loved Garth Brooks' music. Jordan added: "Support for the fundraiser has been amazing. It's already a sell-out but we're holding a raffle and people can buy cowboy hats on the way in. One of the pictures of Dean which was in the newspapers showed him wearing a pink cowboy hat at a Derek Ryan concert we all went to on my birthday in the Ulster Hall."
Dean's parents recently went ahead with the opening of the barbershop their son had been designing at Woodford Road, off the Doagh Road. Jordan said that he had been reluctant to start work at his cousin's business, Dean Samuels.
"I didn't want to come in every morning and see Dean's photograph on the wall. I thought it would break my heart," he said.
"But I tried to get over that because I wanted to make a go of the shop.
"I still see that picture of Dean every day but now it makes me determined to do well for him."