Treatment fund will now pay for big send-off
A FUND of €12,000 raised to help with the medical treatment of Alex Higgins in the months before his death will now be used for his funeral.
Tributes to the snooker great flooded in yesterday following the discovery of his body in a Belfast flat over the weekend.
Dubbed the 'Hurricane' for his speed of play, Higgins was praised by figures from across the sporting world for bringing a new flair to the sport.
About €18,000 was raised prior to his death at an auction and fundraising dinner for his ongoing medical care.
His friend and former personal assistant Will Robinson said the remainder of this fund would now be used for a "great send-off".
Mr Robinson said. "There's about £10,000 (€12,000) in total when we get everything in. Now that's going to pay for a great send-off."
He said the snooker player's sister Jean and friend and fellow player Jimmy White asked for the funds to be used.
The funeral details have not yet been finalised as White is away in Thailand. There were suggestions yesterday that Higgins could be buried close to his friend Oliver Reed, who was interred in Cork. The pair were close and the snooker player attended the actor's funeral in Churchtown, Co Cork, in 1999.
"He's asked to hold things up until he gets back. That's the plan and the family have agreed," Mr Robinson said.
Sports Minister Mary Hanafin said Higgins's comeback win in the 1982 World Championships was an "abiding memory" for audiences. "Alex was a bright star of snooker for many decades and his victories were a time of great celebration for the people of Belfast and all of Ireland. Alex's skill entertained and enthralled his many fans," she said.
The BBC snooker commentator Clive Everton said matches that Higgins played were "great occasions" and he loved being the centre of attention.
"He was a very inventive and often flamboyant shotmaker. Alex was very quick, instinctive and he had the gift for the unexpected."
Dubliner Ken Doherty said watching Higgins in the famous 1982 World Championship final was an inspiration for him to pursue a career in snooker.
"He was just a genius and you never knew what you were going to get with Alex," he said.
"That is why everyone was attracted to him. He had this electricity all the time whether he was on the table or off the table and people fed off that."
"He was one of two or three people I would put the word 'genius' to when it came to the table," Steve Davis said.
James Lawton: page 27 Vincent Hogan: Sport