Grief-stricken Louise Dunlop says her sons, Michael and Daniel, have been a tower of strength following the tragic death of her eldest boy William at the Skerries 100 road races.
The 32-year-old sadly lost his life during practice for the event near Dublin on Saturday, July 7.
Louise lost her husband, Robert, ten years ago following a fatal accident at the North West 200 and has now also endured the heartbreak of burying a son.
She has faced untold anguish, yet at a time of great sorrow, Louise was eager to express her gratitude to those who were on hand to offer her family support and comfort last week, as William was laid to rest alongside his father and uncle Joey at Garryduff Presbyterian Church near Ballymoney.
Thousands turned out to pay their respects to the unassuming racer, who was one of the most popular riders in the paddock.
He leaves behind his partner, Janine Brolly, who is expecting their second child in September. On Sunday, their baby girl Ella had her second birthday.
Louise thanked Janine and ‘the lovely Brolly family for their loving support’ and also baby Ella, ‘for her little hugs’.
In an open statement, Louise said: “I thank you all sincerely for your sympathy shown for my son William and I am sorry that many of you hadn’t time to grieve or get to say your goodbyes.
“I would like to thank everyone in our time of sorrow for their prayers, flowers, cards, messages, refreshments and the donations you so kindly sent. We are greatly appreciative of all your help throughout those final few days with William and in time we will thank everyone personally.
“I would like to thank our lovely neighbours especially Francis McWilliams, James McLean, Richard Wilson and Joe Patton and all their families for their loyal support in making many visitors welcome and offering their lands for parking.
“Thank you to the Rev John Kirkpatrick and Rev Kenny Henderson for conducting a lovely service with thanks to Louise Campbell for her lovely poem and singer Diana Culbertson. Thanks also to Garryduff Presbyterian Church and its lovely staff who provided refreshments in their Church Hall, plus all the residents of Garryduff and Garryduff Primary School for their co-operation.
“I would like to thank the press and media for showing respect to William during the week and with his funeral.
“Thank you for the professionalism shown by James McMullan and Son Funeral Directors (Ballymoney) and the PSNI. It was a great honour to see so many people from all corners of the world attending William’s funeral to show your love and affection even in the drizzle – I appreciate your kind thoughts more than I can say.
“A personal thank you to May, Jim and Gary Dunlop and all the Dunlop family; Liam Beckett for his strong support, Valerie Shields, Ann and Peter Louden, Adrian Fagan, Gary Ryan, Johnny Rea and Pastor David Park from Hebron Free Presbyterian Church.
“Thanks to both William’s and Michael’s past and present sponsors along with their respective families for offering their heartfelt support, plus William’s mechanics and friends, Alistair Russell and Jamie Ferguson.
“Thank you to the Loughshinny Club, Skerries race officials and race fans along with Williams’s fellow riders for their donations and respect shown. I would again like to personally thank the great work the Motor Cycle Ireland Medical Team carried out plus all the marshals, officials and Garda, who dealt with the incident. Thanks also to the BSB staff, riders and teams for their respect shown at Knockhill; the respect shown by William’s local Dunaghy Football Club and the amazing respect shown by all the folk of Ballymoney.
“A sincere thank you to William’s partner Janine and the lovely Brolly family for their loving support and to William and Janine’s daughter Ella for her little hugs, and special thanks to my own mother and family for their great support.
“If I have sadly overlooked anyone, it wasn’t intentional as there were so many of you who made the sad occasion pass much smoother for us.
“Finally, my heartfelt thanks to my boys, Daniel and Michael, for all their strength and the devoted love they have shown to their mother.”
‘Mrs Louise Dunlop’.