Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Rea donates World Superbike leathers as Northern Ireland sports stars back William Dunlop fund

Jonathan Rea has joined a list of NI sport stars to support a donation which will be made to William Dunlop's family.
Jonathan Rea has joined a list of NI sport stars to support a donation which will be made to William Dunlop's family.
William Dunlop passed away after a crash at the Skerries 100 in July.
Jonathan Rea celebrates victory in Portugal earlier this month.

By Gareth Hanna

Jonathan Rea has donated his leathers to the William Dunlop fund after clinching his fourth successive World Superbike title.

The Ballyclare racer sealed his latest historic championship with a race win at Magny Cours on Saturday and reacted by joining a long list of Northern Irish sporting heroes to support a donation that will be made to William Dunlop's family.

It's now almost three months since William passed away following a crash in practice at the Skerries 100. As a focus for the fund, a golf day was organised at Galgorm Castle last Friday, where 120 golfers were joined by up to 30 members of William's family, including his grandmother May, mother Louise and partner Janine, making her first public appearance since his passing.

"It was very tough for them but probably the most moving point of the day came when I got up onto the stage and was joined by Janine and Louise. Both spoke to thank everyone there for making the day such a success," said organiser and William's lifelong friend Liam Beckett.

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An auction was held featuring plenty of unique pieces of memorabilia, from Glenn Irwin's British Superbike leathers to Rory McIlroy's golf shoes. Now added to that list has been Rea's history-making piece of racing attire.

"I'm so happy to hear that the William Dunlop Golf Classic went so well and you raised so, so much money for William Dunlop's family. I want to increase that fund and I'm donating a set of my Championship leathers this year to help," he said, speaking from France. "Thank you very much to everyone who supported the cause and I'll see you all very soon."

After the latest gesture, Beckett says he has been overwhelmed by the support shown by the sporting community.

"It's just so pleasing to see Jonathan and so many of our sports stars coming together to support the event," he said.

"The generosity of everybody was astounding. We had people from every walk of life there and from all parts of the community, which was a great reminder of the role sport plays in our society."

While Graeme McDowell donated a pair of week passes to next year's Open Championship, the sportspeople present on the day included former Northern Ireland footballers Keith Gillespie, John O'Neill and Sammy Clingan, ex Ulster Rugby players Stephen Ferris and Andy Ward, paralympian Michael McKillop, golfer Michael Hoey and several GAA stars including Peter Canavan and Brian McGuigan.

"It was a massive success story, far beyond our wildest expectations when we sat down to plan this," continued Beckett.

"It was a celebration of William's short life but at the same time, we are all still suffering a great deal of pain and grief. Hopefully we got the mix of those two feelings spot on.

"We can't thank everybody who supported the event enough. I also have to thank the staff at Galgorm Castle Golf Club, who were first class from the day we first planned the event until its completion."

You can make an offer for Rea's Championship-winning leathers or make a donation to the fund by contacting davidlewers@btinternet.com.

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