Belfast Telegraph

Funeral of William Dunlop: Rev John Kirkpatrick tribute in full

Full text of the Reverend John Kirkpatrick's tribute to William Dunlop:

To Janine and Ella, To Louise, Michael and Daniel ... To William’s Nana, May, and all the family]

This day is primarily for you ...who knew him best, loved him the deepest, and miss him most.

I count it an honour to be asked to speak today and as I do so I have in mind - three families... William’s partner Janine and daughter Ella, his Dunlop family and the racing family.

Many wonderful tributes have already been paid to William, no one tribute or indeed all together will suffice, there are as many stories and memories as there are people here, as we share them and treasure them, we celebrate the full and meaningful life William lived, and we enable his story to be told.

In preparing for today I have read and researched much about William’s life and career... As I listened I’ve heard about his thoughtfulness as a child, his strong bond with his brothers, his kindness to his mum and his deep devotion to his dad. I have witnessed the moving love between William and Janine and his delight as a father to Ella.

Since he began the road racing scene at 17 he has been consistently competitive and an example of a great sportsman.

His record of 108 national Wins and 11 International wins speaks for itself. We have watched his smooth style on the track and his gracious and thoughtful manner off it. As Michael said in his book “Nothing made his dad more proud than giving William a bike that he then goes out and wins on” ... “Class will always tell and Dad and William have it in spades”

Ten years ago here in this same Church at Robert’s funeral I said “Not many people finish what they start, not all persevere in adversity or push themselves to their potential- this made Robert stand out from the crowd” William watched and learned from Robert and his life developed those same qualities and although his life has been shorter than many and certainly shorter than we hoped, the one he chose to live was not dull but full.

I have pondered what William might say to us today perhaps a small part might be:-

To his fans and supporters - You were kind to me and stayed with me over the years, you waved your programmes, and you didn’t walk away. Across the small country roads and the sweeping corners of international races over the world I saw you

To his family - you are the big part of the person I became. You accepted me, listened to me, gave me space to be me, loved me, laughed with me

To His mother - You brought me into the world and cared for me, nurtured my life, watched me grow, set me an example, put kindness in me...

To his brothers - you were also my friends, you were there for me, you have not let me down, you have the stories few people know. Remember our happy times together.

To Janine and Ella- You were my true chequered flag, you, the home of my heart. When I held you Ella for the first time, it was the beginning of new love. You made being a father the best of all podiums. When anyone sees you they will see me.

Where do we turn when find ourselves in such a time as this?

Where can we find help?

The road ahead is not easy for sure.

In times like these we really discover just how frail and helpless we are, no matter how independent and strong we are, no matter how long we have lived and how successful we have been.

These are times that confirm to us that everything is not right in our world, things need fixing. Life is broken, pain is real, grief is crushing and our hearts cry out for an answer. There is a lie put about that we don’t need outside help and another lie that there is no one there.

On September 5th 1993 Misano, Italian GP....Wayne Rainey double world champion.

“It’s Lap seven of Thirty...

He’s riding hard as always ... But as he opens the throttle the bike throws him off into the sand

He spins and flips and the bike collides with him...

He can’t feel his legs

He loses his sight for a moment

He is desperate

He needs help

Who can help him.”

Later Wayne said “A real peace came over me everything was really calm. I never was a religious man before, though I did believe in God and knew that to go to heaven you needed to ask for forgiveness of your sins.”

“God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way and the mountains moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling”

Present Help: What is the point of help too far out of reach? Where you can see it but where you can’t access it. What use is a lifebelt to a person in the sea if he sees it but that is all? Just like Wayne Rainey discovered God is not far away and at a distance. When we call out in simple faith he hears us. He doesn’t reject us He won’t ignore us. He won’t turn away because we think we’re not good enough. He is right here with us today. He sees and hears and feels and knows. Even the unspoken thoughts and words.

Proven Help: The word here translated as ‘Present‘ can also be translated as well proven. In the racing world we know well the meaning of testing... Testing machines, settings, tyres, braking points, so that knowing everything has been well proved we can put our trust in them and race. Does God really help? It is not too hard to see just how has and is helping millions... The Bible is full of examples, the world is full of examples, and many of us here have our own stories. The strong as well as the needy, the young as well as the old.

Permanent Help: ‘Though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” He is a description of great change ... Cosmic change. We speak of our world being turned upside down... Just like now... And what he says is... In times like these

Powerful help: Lots of people try to help us but they know that they are limited, sometimes we say things like I feel so helpless. “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter, he utters his voice, the earth melts... He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots in the fire … Be still and Know that I am God” Psalm 46v7-10

The Lord Jesus Christ was willing to become a helpless sacrifice on the cross to win this help for anyone who will admit their inability to help themselves. When we are willing to Be still and acknowledge God as he truly is...when we pause, slow down, stop ... Be still ... Turn to Him with the humble simple faith as a child, like Wayne in 1993... Lord I need You, I need your mercy your forgiveness...I need your help-He doesn’t just send help... He is our help He comes himself, he comes to live in our hearts by His Spirit always ... Today He is willing to be our Help and always our help.

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