VIDEO: Caring Caretaker's emotional tribute to friend Denis McNeill at charity cheque presentation

Coleraine’s Caring Caretaker completed his final fundraiser in an emotional charity cheque presentation on Tuesday, March 12.

Davy Boyle was presenting a cheque for more than £16,000 to the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund in memory of his friend, well-known local teacher and radio broadcaster Denis McNeill.

Denis, who received a new kidney last year, sadly passed away on February 13, 2023, and in his memory, Davy and the McNeill family spent the last year fundraising for the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund.

Speaking during the cheque presentation event at the Lodge Hotel, Davy said that he had been ‘proud and privileged’ to be asked by the McNeill family to raise funds for Kidney Research when Denis took ill.

“They had wanted to do something to say thank you but sadly that fundraising turned out to be in Denis’ memory,” said Davy who presented NI Kidney Research Fund representative Anne McCormick with a cheque for £16,437-04.

The fundraising efforts took the form of a Jail and Bail event, tea party, tea dance, a bucket collection at a Coleraine FC match and was kick-started by Denis’ own granddaughter Caitlin who raised £500 with a sale at her school.

Davy said he was “so proud and humbled” to hand over the cheque “on behalf of Helen, Emma, Jayne, Claire and Christopher and the grandchildren. Since Denis was first diagnosed with kidney problems we have raised a grand total of £35,362-36 for NI Kidney Research Fund.”

This is the final fundraising event by Coleraine’s Caring Caretaker who has raised almost three quarters of a million pounds for charities over the years.

Rev James McCaughan, who is vice-chair of NI Kidney Research Fund, drew attention to the fact that Davy was exact in the total he presented to the charity: “Every single penny is counted and that shows the care he takes to ensure that everything is above board and that everything goes to the charity.”

He also reminded those present that the NI Kidney Research Fund will hold a service in First Coleraine Presbyterian Church on March 24 at 7pm. Counterpoint Choir will lead the praise and the service is open to everyone.

Dr Oonagh McCloskey from the Renal Unit of Altnagelvin Hospital also attended the event and stressed that it’s thanks to the research funded by the charity that medical professionals can “improve the quality of life for patients living with kidney disease”. She thanked Davy and the McNeill family for their “invaluable” fundraising.

Speaking on behalf of the McNeill family, Denis’s son-in-law Peter Harten said that NI Kidney Research Fund is a charity that “will always be held dearly” by the family. He spoke of how, following the kidney transplant he received, “the last weeks of Denis’s life were filled with hope”.

Thanking Davy Boyle for his fundraising, Peter said: “Thank you Davy for being a loyal and true friend to Denis.”

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