Sad poignancy: William Dunlop's mother to accept award as racer joins dad and uncle in Irish Motorcycling Hall of Fame
With just over one week to go until the Cornmarket Motorcycling Awards in Belfast's Crowne Plaza Hotel, organisers have announced that William Dunlop will be posthumously inducted into the Irish Motorcycling Hall of Fame.
The popular rider will follow in the footsteps of his late father Robert and uncle Joey, who have already been added to the prestigious roll of honour.
William was tragically killed after a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 last July, plunging the sport into mourning.
His partner Janine along with his mother Louise will accept the accolade at the Crowne Plaza next Friday night.
Louise says it will be an honour to collect the award on behalf of her son, albeit a heartbreaking occasion.
"We are still in complete shock after the tragic incident last summer, but any award the Dunlop family has ever received has been very special," she said.
"There is a sad poignancy that William goes into the Hall of Fame alongside his dad and uncle Joey, who we all still miss dearly.
"The Dunlops' achievements which span almost 50 years have left an indelible mark on sport in Northern Ireland.
"With this award it's just lovely to know the Dunlop name is still a force to be reckoned with, but it will be an emotional evening."
Louise also wanted to thank everyone who has supported them since William's passing, saying: "We have been overwhelmed with the amount of love and kindness we have received. It has been truly remarkable.
"William was loved by everyone and we are so proud of his achievements, as we are with all my boys."
William began racing in 2000 aged 15, going on to accumulate 108 Irish National road race wins and collecting 10 Irish and eight Ulster road race championships.
On the international scene William won seven times at the Ulster Grand Prix and four times at the North West 200, but a win around the Mountain Circuit always eluded him - although he did stand on the podium eight times, five during the TT and three during the Classic TT meeting.
The Ballymoney rider was also a prolific winner around the 4.25-mile Billown Circuit on the Isle of Man, winning 13 times at the Southern 100 and eight times at the Post TT meeting.
William joins some of Ireland's most famous riders in the Hall of Fame including former world champion Brian Reid, an awards judge, versatile former Grand Prix rider Jeremy McWilliams, road racing stars Phillip McCallen, Steven Cull, Johnny Rea, Eddie Laycock and Alan Irwin plus top motocross competitor Gordon Crockard.
Next Friday at the sold-out Cornmarket Awards evening, a dozen other awards will be presented including the IFS Road Racer of the Year, Blackhorse Best Short Circuit Rider on UK and Irish Circuits, JWA Team of the Year, Greenlight Television Special Recognition and Bet McLean Race of the Year, the evening culminating with the marquee award of the event - Cornmarket Irish Motorcyclist of the Year.