Glentoran community united in grief for Walker
There has been an outpouring of sympathy this week for Glentoran stalwart Chris Walker and Joanne Kelly whose young son was buried on Monday.
Tributes poured in over the weekend following the sudden death of two-year-old Jaxon from meningitis.
Hundreds of people attended the funeral at Comber cemetery following a private service at Jaxon's home.
The toddler was rushed to hospital at 4am on Friday, but his condition rapidly deteriorated and he passed away at the Royal Victoria Children's hospital.
Condolences were led by Glentoran FC which issued a statement: “The President, Chairman, Board of Directors, Manager, Coaching Staff, Players and everyone connected with Glentoran Football Club, were shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Jaxon Walker, two year old son of Glentoran legend, Chris Walker.
“The club extend their deepest sympathies to the whole family circle and assure them that they are in our thoughts and prayers at this tragic time.”
Chris Walker played for Glentoran for 13 years as a centre back and now manages the club’s under-17 side.
He went along to Solitude, where Glentoran were playing Cliftonville on Saturday and inspired the team to a win with a pre-match talk which manager Scott Young described as “one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen a man do”.
Friends and colleagues have been expressing their shock and disbelief at his tragic loss.
Glentoran first team coach Tim McCann said: “I extend my deepest sympathies to Chris at this devastating time. Anyone connected with Glentoran will be looked after. We will bend over backwards to help Chris at this tragic time, but at the minute he needs privacy, he will need time to grieve and the family need space.”
Cliftonville manager Eddie Patterson said: “I can’t put into words how sorry I am; my condolences and all the players at Cliftonville Football Club’s condolences are with the family at this sad time.”
“I didn't realise the severity of his son’s illness. We donated a top last year to Chris as he was raising funds for NICFC.”
East Belfast councillor Jim Rodgers said: “My thoughts and prayers are with Chris and his family at this sad time, it is a terrible blow, they were all totally dedicated to the child.”
Eddie Harvey, secretary of the Westbourne Glentoran Supporters’ Club, said: “Chris was raising funds last week to be able to send kids to Preston. He is a lovely guy, he is always organising things to help others; the loss of his young son is such a tragedy.”
Donations can be made in Jaxon's memory to Meningitis Research, c/o Gilmore Funeral Directors,13 The Square Comber BT23 5DX.