Belfast Telegraph

GAA club's gym 'a fitting tribute' to Kevin King

Club’s fitness suite opened in memory of late player

Kevin King
Kevin King
Kevin with his brother Martin
Slaughtmanus chairman Kevin Watson in the new KK Fitness Suite
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The brother of a young GAA player who died from a rare and undiagnosed heart condition has said a fitness suite opened in his memory at his former club is a fitting tribute.

Kevin King (22) loved playing for his local Co Derry GAA club, Slaughtmanus, where his sudden death on November 3, 2016 was deeply felt.

Kevin's club-mates wanted to do something that would see his name live on and so, with the help of the club committee, the idea of a fitness suite emerged, paid for and built by the members.

Kevin's parents John and Margaret and brother Martin will attend the official opening of the gym tonight, joined by friends, family and the wider GAA fraternity.

"As a family we feel the loss of Kevin every day but his anniversary always brings the memories to the fore," said Martin.

"So much has happened during these three years because of what happened to Kevin and we wish he was still here to see all the things that have been inspired because of him.

"The opening of the fitness suite by the club that Kevin played for is a huge thing for us as a family.

"These are the friends and team-mates that Kevin spent so much time with and who miss him terribly too.

"This will be a living memory of Kevin and it will be a reminder to everyone who uses it that your health is so important and will be a representation of how precious life is.

"What happened to Kevin was such a sheer and utter tragedy, but now this will be a legacy to him that will bring benefits to other people, which fits perfectly with the fundraising done for the Heart Foundation.

"To date we have raised around £100,000 for research and for me, mammy and daddy it gives us comfort that people are going to benefit from what happened to Kevin.

"We come from a really quiet country area but what happened to Kevin has led to this cascade of good, it has raised the profile of what the researchers are doing and has highlighted that a small community plays a crucial role in making big things happen.

"In all honesty, it has been an ongoing difficulty for us to use what happened to Kevin but I do know Kevin would have done this and he would have relished the attention, and for us now to have the Slaughtmanus club open this fitness facility is incredible.

"It will be so comforting for us to go through Tamnaherin and see that reminder of Kevin and to see it full of people who want to better themselves and do well, and that is a fitting tribute to him."

Slaughtmanus GAC chairman Kevin Watson said completing the fitness suite has been not just a joint effort between the committee and members, but the whole parish.

He said: "The only thing we couldn't do was build the equipment, but 100 people signed up for five years' membership of the gym, which covered the cost of equipment.

"The shock and tragedy of what happened to Kevin really affected us as a club and we wanted to do something in his memory. He had been a member of our club since he was 10 and was so passionate about Gaelic football. It was his first love by a country mile, so when a few of the players came to me with the idea of a gym I thought it would be a really good legacy to Kevin.

"We sought and got planning permission and did a few functions to raise the capital costs, but what makes this gym so special and such a perfect tribute to Kevin was the club members, committee and parish did all the work voluntarily, which is very much the ethos of the GAA."

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