Almost £14,000 was raised for two good causes at the recent memorial dinner for Moira man Oliver Turkington.
The event held in Coleraine - addressed by legendary British and Irish Lions captain Willie John McBride and compered by local comedy duo Grimes and McKee - was organised to celebrate the life of Oliver, a former boarder and the standout player of CAI’s rugby tour of Japan 25 years ago.
Mark McMahon, senior local fundraising manager for Cancer Research UK in Northern Ireland, visited the school to receive a cheque for £6,923 from Paul McBride, Coleraine Inst’s captain in the Far East in 1989.
Richard Beggs, the current CAI 1st XV head coach – another of those to go on the Japan tour – presented a cheque for an identical amount to Dr David Carruthers, the headmaster, to assist with rugby development at the school.
Mark McMahon said: “Cancer Research UK in Northern Ireland would like to thank Barry White and all who attended this gala event to celebrate the life of Oliver Turkington. People travelled from all over the UK, Ireland and further afield in memory of Oliver.
“Congratulations to all involved in organising such a memorable, celebratory event. This is an incredible amount of money and will all go towards our life-saving research.”
Dr David Carruthers said: “It was a wonderful evening and, for me, a great pleasure to have the opportunity to welcome so many old boys back to CAI. A significant number had travelled from outside Northern Ireland to be present and were very pleased to be back, which certainly reflects well on their time here.
“A remarkable amount of money was also raised on the night, half of which will go towards rugby development at the school. This will serve as a great legacy and a fitting tribute to Oliver, who continues to be remembered particularly fondly by all who knew him.”
Barry White, who organised the event in partnership with Richard Beggs, said: “I cannot praise the school enough for their support.”
He passed on personal thanks to Richard, Diane Armstrong and Nicola Hanna in the school office, and finally, to the headmaster, the board of governors and the bursar, Gordon Knight.