Special guest at memorial

Willie John McBride
Willie John McBride

British and Irish Lions rugby legend Willie John Bride will be the principal speaker at a unique dinner being held this autumn in memory of Moira man Oliver Turkington.

Oliver sadly died in 2007 aged 35 after a long battle with cancer. He was a former player at Lurgan Rugby Club and very active member of Lurgan Golf Club.

It is 25 years since Coleraine Academical Institution (CAI) became the first Irish school to play rugby in Japan when a 21-player First XV squad and three coaches embarked on the groundbreaking tour to the Far East.

A boarder at the school, Oliver was universally regarded as the stand-out player on the four-game trip and the event – which will take place at CAI on Saturday, September 13 – is being organised in his honour.

Bruce Turkington, Oliver’s younger brother, said that he and his family had no hesitation in throwing their full support behind the event.

“I know Oliver would have been delighted – and probably a little embarrassed – to know that his friends were getting together in his name,” said Bruce.

“As a family, we are all really looking forward to it and to doing what we can to make the evening a success. Bringing the squad back together to mark the 25th anniversary of the tour was an obvious thing to do,” said current CAI

First XV coach Richard Beggs who, as a 16-year-old, travelled to Japan with the 1989 squad as an outside half.

“Following consultation with the Turkington family, half of the money raised will be donated to Cancer Research UK with the remainder going towards rugby development at the school.”

Tickets for the Oliver Turkington Memorial Dinner – £45 each - are available by calling Diane Armstrong on 7034 4331 or emailing richardbeggs@btinternet.com