Belfast Telegraph

Ballymoney braces itself for sombre farewell to road racing hero William Dunlop

By Gillian Halliday

The Presbyterian minister who will officiate at William Dunlop's funeral today has said riders around the world will be praying for his grieving family.

Rev John Kirkpatrick, who has been a chaplain to the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland for the past 25 years, will help deliver the service at Garryduff Presbyterian Church in Ballymoney this afternoon.

The funeral services of William's father Robert, killed at the North West 200 in 2008, and his uncle Joey, who died while racing in Estonia eight years earlier, took place at the same church.

Now motorsport fans are expected to descend on Garryduff to pay their respects to the third member of the Dunlop racing dynasty to lose their life to the sport.

William (32) was killed instantly while participating in the practice session of the Skerries 100 in Co Dublin last Saturday.

Rev Kirkpatrick, who officiated at both Joey and Robert's funerals, said his chaplaincy role within the sport meant that he had been confronted with a number of tragedies over the years, including those faced by the Dunlop family, whom he said were coping as best they could in the circumstances.

"They are a remarkably strong family," he said yesterday.

"People are just heartbroken. This young man at 32, with his whole life ahead him, who added so much to his family and partner, to his little girl.

"Many people I know around the world that I'm friendly with will be praying.

"And I believe that God will be there to help."

The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Raymond Campbell The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Victor Gibson - Pamela Anderson - The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Adam Carroll The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Daniel Dunlop The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The remains of William Dunlop return to the family home in Gracehill, Ballymoney on July 10th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

He added that his thoughts would be with William's pregnant partner Janine Brolly, who is due to give birth in September, their daughter Ella, who turns two on Sunday, and the racer's mother Louise and brothers Daniel and Michael.

Michael was also riding in the practice session that claimed William's life last weekend.

Rev Kirkpatrick (above) is minister of Portrush Presbyterian Church, but he ministered at Garryduff between 1987 and 1993.

He said that as the Dunlop family struggles to come to terms with the loss of William, the local community would be there for them at this extremely difficult time.

"Ballymoney has always owned its motorcyclists, its riders," he said, citing how the town had built memorials to Robert and Joey.

"I've no doubt that there is a community sense of grief."

Garryduff Presbyterian Church
Garryduff Presbyterian Church
Joey Dunlop's grave
Robert Dunlop's grave
Rev John Kirkpatrick

Meanwhile, money to help William's family continued to pour in yesterday in memory of the talented rider.

At the time of going to press, over £15,000 in donations had been made to an online fundraising campaign established in his memory - reaching three-quarters of its £20,000 target.

Initially, the target was half of that amount, but such was the public response it was broken in less than 24 hours.

PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/8/2017: William Dunlop on the start line for practice at the Classic TT.
PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/8/2017: William Dunlop on the start line for practice at the Classic TT. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
William Dunlop racing during practice at Skerries today. Pacemaker
William Dunlop racing during practice at Skerries today. PACEMAKEER BELFAST 07/07/2018
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/7/2018: William Dunlop in action on the Temple Golf Club Yamaha during practice for the Skerries 100 today. William died in crash during the session. PICTURE BY DEREK WILSON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 7/7/2018: Gardai at the scene where William Dunlop suffered a fatal crash during practice for the Skerries 100 today.
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 9th May 2017 Vauxhall International North West 200 practice sessions. Pictured: Paul Jordan and William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Northern Ireland- 13th August 2014 Mandatory Credit - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com William Dunlop in action on board his superbike at practice for the Dundrod 150 and Ulster Grand Prix road races.
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2010: Michael and William Dunlop in their father Robert's Memorial Garden in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 20/3/2017: William Dunlop with his Caffrey International R6 Yamaha he will race in the Supersport class in 2017. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 25/8/2017: Michael and William Dunlop at Classic TT practice tonight. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/5/2014: William Dunlop celebrates after winning the opening Superbike race at the Vauxhall International North West 200. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
William Dunlop and his partner Janine arrive at the Adelaide Motorcycle Awards in Belfast in 2014. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/1/2014.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 03/06/13: Brothers Michael (MD Racing Honda) and William Dunlop (Milwaukee Yamaha) in the winners enclosure after finishing first and third in the opening Monster Energy supersport race on his MD Racing Honda at the 2013 Isle of Man TT PHOTO BY STEPHEN DAVISON/PACEMAKER
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 23/1/2015: That's my boy! William Dunlop, winner of the Race of the Year category at the Adelaide Motorbike awards with his mother Louise. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
William Dunlop at the Armoy Road Races in 2016. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th April 2017 Cookstown 100 Road Races. Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 1/5/2015: William Dunlop during Tandragee 100 practice. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER BELFAST 12/05/2015 William Dunlop (Tyco BMW Motorrad Racing) during Tuesday's practice for the North West 200 Road races. Photo Stephen Davison/Pacemaker Press
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 24/7/2015: William Dunlop (CD Racing Yamaha) celebrates winning the opening 600cc race at the Armoy road races on Friday evening. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 30th May 2017 Isle of Man TT Practice Week Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White / PressEye Motor Cycling: Tandragee 100 Venue: Tandragee Date: 1st May 2015 Caption: William Dunlop
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th August 2016 Practice sessions for the Plant Lubrication Dundrod 150 and the MCE Insurance Ulster Grand Prix get underway. Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 12th May 2017 Vauxhall International North West 200 Pictured: William Dunlop with fans. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 07th June 2017 Isle of Man TT RL360 Quantum Superstock Race Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 10th August 2017 Dundrod 150 Gym Co Ultralightweight / Lightweight Race Pictured: Paul Jordan and William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
PressEye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 09th August 2017 Ulster Grand Prix & Dundrod 150 Practice Pictured: William Dunlop. Picture: Philip Magowan / PressEye
Mandatory Credit: Rowland White PressEye Road Racing: Cooktown 100 Venue: Orritor Date: 30th April 2016 Race: Supersport 2 Caption: William Dunlop celebrates
@Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland- 3rd June 2013 Mandatory Credit - Brian Little/ Presseye William Dunlop (Milwaukee Yamaha) at Creg-Ny-Baa during Monday's Royan London 360 Superstock Race over the Mountain Course during the IOM TT 2013.
Northern Ireland- 13th May 2014 Mandatory Credit - Picture - Matt Mackey/Presseye.com Vauxhall International 2014 North West 200. Tuesday practice. William Dunlop Tyco.
©Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland 26th April 2013 - Mandatory Credit - Picture by Matt Mackey/presseye.com Cookstown 100 road races practice evening. Ballymoney rider William Dunlop.
PACEMAKER BELFAST, 9/5/2006: Robert Dunlop is the most successful rider in the history of the North West 200 with 14 wins and as he goes for win 15 in 2006 he will have strong competition from his own sons Michael and William. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST,2007: The Dunlop family enjoyed a winning day at teh Mid Antrim 150 with Michael, Dad Robert and William all winning a race apiece. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON
PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 2008: Robert Dunlop and his three sons Daniel, Michael and William. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON

The fundraiser was launched by Adrian Fegan, a family friend, who said the Dunlops were "very thankful" for the support shown by well-wishers.

"It's a small token to help them," he added.

"The response has been very, very good."

The latest wave of public generosity came as William's devastated mother Louise welcomed road racing fans into her Ballymoney home yesterday evening, a gesture described as "selfless" and "brave" by well-wishers on Twitter.

The invitation was extended on her behalf by close family friend Liam Beckett, who said it would give the fans the opportunity to pay their respects.

And books of condolence at venues across the Causeway Coast and Glens council area have garnered hundreds of signatures in Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady and Ballycastle since they were officially opened on Monday by mayor Brenda Chivers.

"The entire borough has been left shocked and saddened with the tragic events that unfolded at the weekend," she said.

"William was a fantastic sporting legend and he will be remembered for his many achievements."

Meanwhile, prayers and messages of support from racing fans also continue to flood in for another one of motorsport's well-known figures, Sam Graham.

The Ballymoney man, who worked as a mechanic for Joey Dunlop during some of the racing legend's most successful years, is in a critical but stable condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital following a crash at the weekend.

Mr Graham was flown to hospital by air ambulance last Saturday evening after the motorcycle he was riding was involved in a three-vehicle collision in Co Antrim.

In a tragic coincidence, the collision took place at the same time William lost his life.

Belfast Telegraph

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