independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

There will be no Christmas for us without Andrew, says Derry

L to R - Andrew Clarke, Sally Anne Clarke, Sarah May Clarke and Derry Clarke
Andrew Clarke, Sally Anne Clarke, Sarah May Clarke and Derry Clarke at a previous Christmas dinner

CELEBRITY chef Derry Clarke has said there will be "no Christmas" this year for himself and his family.

And that they may never celebrate Christmas, or New Year ever again following the death of their son.

As other family prepare to be reunited with loved ones, Derry and wife Sallyanne will face the first anniversary of their son Andrew's death.

Andrew (16) was found unconscious in the garage of their family home just two days after Christmas last year and passed away on New Year's Eve. The teen took his own life.

Derry told the Herald: "There will be no Christmas for us this year and I don't think there ever will be again, or a New Year.

"They say the first Christmas without someone is the worst. We don't know because we haven't experienced that yet. This will be the first."

As the painful first anniversary of Andrew's passing approaches, Derry said he will be laying low.

"It will be difficult. That's why I'd just like to stay very quiet this year, and keep things on an even keel," he said.

The restaurateur had spoken previously of how the family have tried to come to terms with the loss of Andrew, while also "getting up in the morning" to run their Michelin-starred eaterie L'Ecrivain on Lower Baggot Street.

The tragedy ended up impacting on the restaurant which had survived the worst recession in history.

After his son's passing, he noticed a drop in diners.

"People have been staying away out of respect, which is lovely, but that's not going to pay the bills," he said.

"We really appreciate all the support from everyone but we have 30 people working for us. We need people to know that we are open for business as usual."

SUPPORT

Himself and his family's continuing pain over the loss of Andrew leaves him uncertain whether he will celebrate the 25'th anniversary of L'Ecrivain next year.

Believing that Ireland is suffering an epidemic of suicide after the loss of his son, he has become an ambassador for listening and support service www.teenline.ie.

He said: "I want to do more for them next year. I would say to anybody contemplating suicide to think of the devastation that they leave behind them.

"If you could see the future, and what you left behind, people wouldn't do it."

The father-of-two believes that if his son Andrew had known there was a place he could talk to confidentially it might have made a difference.

TEENAGERS

"If Andrew had in his mind, Teen-Line's number, or somewhere at hand, just an example, he could have rang them and there could have been a chance because kids, you know teenagers especially, they don't like to talk to their parents really," said Derry.

"They might feel that they're upsetting their parents or afraid to say what happened but like I'd say to anyone, no matter how bad you think it is, no matter how bad, there's always someone you can talk you. You've got to talk to someone."

Derry said one of the more enjoyable events he took part in this year was the Westport Festival of Music and Food which he has again signed up for next year on June 28 and 29.

Along with Bryan Adams and Kool & The Gang, punters will enjoy culinary demonstrations from top chefs like Derry and other big foodies which last year included Dylan McGrath, Richard Corrigan, Oliver Dunne and Kevin Dundon.

"There's a great buzz. I really liked it and enjoyed it last year and that's why I'm going back," said Derry.

Tickets for the Westport Festival of Music & Food tickets went on sale yesterday.

Teenline can be contacted at 1800 833 634 while the Samaritans are open 24 hours a day 1850 60 60 90.

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