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Garth Brooks sends prized guitars to NI man struggling with lockdown

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Stephen unwraps one of the gifts from Garth Brooks

Stephen unwraps one of the gifts from Garth Brooks

Stephen unwraps one of the gifts from Garth Brooks

A Garth Brooks superfan says he broke down in tears when he was gifted not one but two guitars by his idol after reaching out to him online.

Stephen Whoriskey (36), from Derry, started learning to play the guitar during lockdown as a way of coping with his mental health struggles and sent the country music star a message asking how he was passing the time.

After forgetting about the message Stephen was stunned a few weeks later when his picture appeared on Garth Brooks' weekly Facebook Live show, Inside Studio G, with his hero promising to send him one of his trademark GB7C guitars.

However after a mix-up Stephen ended up with TWO guitars from the country music legend, one of which he has since auctioned off for charity.

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A gift from Garth Brooks

A gift from Garth Brooks

A gift from Garth Brooks

Stephen told Sunday Life: "It was a really weird story when he sent me one guitar and it got super weird with the second one but I was just happy it meant I was able to help others as a result.

"It's one of those things that if it hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't believe it happened at all.

"I have always been open about my poor mental health which took a bit of a nosedive during lockdown.

"My wife spotted it and said 'you've a guitar up the stairs why don't you learn to play and when this is over we'll gather up the money and buy you a Garth Brooks signature series guitar?'

"That gave me a challenge so I sat down and went onto Facebook and sent Garth a message to say that's what I was doing and asking what he was doing to get through lockdown. I thought nothing of it after sending it off.

"The next thing I was sitting down to watch Inside Studio G with my two-year-old daughter a couple of months ago and my face appeared on the screen.

"Garth then sits down and says we're both very alike and are dealing with a lot of stuff and that I sounded like a good guy with a good conscience.

"Then at the end he says we'll get through this and said for my wife to get in touch so he could send me a Takamine GB7C which he had sitting in the background and held up to the camera.

"I was an absolute mess, I was crying, running around the house and up the stairs. I played it to my wife and she started crying too.

"Then a few weeks later a big box arrived but it wasn't the GB7C, I didn't care that it wasn't the GB7C I was happy with what I had got.

"I took it out of the box, sat down and started playing and that was me. I sent a picture of me playing it as a thank you to Garth.

"Then a wee while later the guy who runs the official Garth Brooks fan page phoned me to say Garth Brooks had spotted the mistake and was now sending me the right one, I couldn't believe it.

"In the next episode of Inside Studio G he mentioned me again and turned to the camera and says 'I'll make sure you get one of these GB7Cs'."

Youth worker Stephen lost one of his close friends, Martin O'Donnell, to cancer last December and with his friend's first anniversary coming up he decided to auction off the first guitar he received to raise money for Northern Irish Cancer Care (NICC) and the Foyle Hospice who looked after his pal.

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Stephen with his daughter holding a photo of late pal Martin O'Donnell

Stephen with his daughter holding a photo of late pal Martin O'Donnell

Stephen with his daughter holding a photo of late pal Martin O'Donnell

He added: "As soon as Garth said about sending another guitar I thought of my friend Martin.

"He passed in the care of Foyle Hospice here in Derry and I thought right I'm going to raffle the first guitar to raise money for them.

"The guitar itself was worth about £200 and they did an auction for me on the official Garth Brooks fan page.

"It ended up going to a fella in Dungannon for £600, he was giving it to his son who was learning to play.

"About two weeks later the GB7C appeared and I cried all over again, it was the guitar I had always wanted.

"Ironically my friend Jason who runs NICC is a Garth Brooks impersonator and he later came around to jam with me when I donated the NICC half which was great fun.

"It was super important to me to be able to do that. I'm hoping to be able to donate the other half of the money to Foyle Hospice in the presence of Martin's family sometime soon.

"Martin was such a great guy, I'm pretty sure he had something to do with all this somehow."

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