Saturday 1 October 2016

A TT-winning Yamaha for Christmas


Published 22/01/2013 | 15:15

CHRISTMAS 2012 will be one that Dean Pearse will never forget, as he received a present no one else will ever have!

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The Skerries road race fan acquired a TT-winning 600 Yamaha that Michael Dunlop took to victory number three over the most famous of all road race venues, the TT Mountain Course. Dean was delighted, and better still the bike was delivered by the TT great himself, who spent most of the day chatting with the young fan. As well as the bike, Dean also got a tin of Mr Sheen and a cloth to make sure that he keeps the bike polished! Born and raised in Ballybay, County Monaghan, Dean really had no biking fans in the family, and he reckons that the buzz the sport gives him comes from a day when he was just three years old. 'I couldn't sleep, and my dad put on the telly and there was racing on, and he said that my head was going with the bikes, so I reckon that is where it comes from,' laughed Dean. At the young age of 10, Dean started going to the new road race at nearby Glaslough, where he really got the buzz. 'Glaslough was only 20 minutes away from my house, and it was a great race. I made many friends there and watched the great Joey Dunlop, and later a young rising star Martin Finnegan' [who scored his first national road race win there], said Dean. Mam Mary added: 'As a young lad he was always out and about riding a Honda 50 like a mad man. He really loved the craic messing about on bikes, but at the age of 16 he had his last proper spin on a bike while he was still in school. He suffered a brain haemorrhage that year, and that put paid to his fun on the bikes.' During his long recovery, Dean's love for bikes never faltered, and on his 18th birthday all the bike clubs in the Cavan/Monaghan area got together in Ballybay. Brian Monaghan was the man that made his day possible and even the Gardai closed off the roads in the town for about 40 minutes to allow the 80 or so bikes help Dean celebrate his big day. 'Brian arranged for a quad to be there for Dean, and they took him out on it,' recalled Mary. 'The Gardai even closed the roads, which was great, and the lads performed doughnuts on the road, and when the cake was delivered to Dean on the quad the Garda opened the roads. It was a great day.' Another disaster was not far away for Dean, and shortly after his 18th he had a terrible accident that left him with serious spinal injuries, and he spent six and a half months in the loving care of the great staff of the Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire. These injuries consigned Dean to a wheelchair, and he never got to see a race for two years. During his time in re-hab Dean was visited by his hero Martin Finnegan, who was taken there by Joe Wright. On his way from the hospital Martin said to Joe: 'My God, I would never like to end up in a wheelchair. Dean is very strong, and I will do something for him.' Shortly after the visit Dean was delighted to receive a team shirt from the Lusk rider, and it's a treasure that he will never let go. Rehab was very hard for Dean, and like so many in his position, he was open to various infections, which leaves him vulnerable, and he has to spend time in hospital. This leaves his racing time short some seasons. ' During his stay in Dun Laoghaire I spent every day there and it was very hard. I had to see exactly what had to be done when Dean came home, as I would have to do everything for him,' said Mary. Despite missing the racing, Dean was kept up to date with the entire goings-on. 'I would get texts from my friend Matt Murphy from Swords. I made friends with Matt on facebook and he would keep me going as the race day went on with results and everything that happened during the day; it was a great help. He also calls to see me every Monday, and I have to have a cake for him, that's the deal,' said Dean. 'I found social media a vital modern tool for me, and with facebook I could see the photos from the day's racing very soon afterwards, which is great.' Back in Ballybay, Dean had a suggestion from a friend to have a painting done of Joey. His friend arrived to do the painting, and much to the amazement of Mary and Dean, he spent 18 hours there. When he came out of the room he had produced a full ceiling-to-floor mural of the legendary Joey Dunlop on the Vimto Honda. In 2008 Dean decided he wanted another painting, and this time it was one of Martin, and like the Joey one this was one of Martin at the TT which went from floor to ceiling. Martin was delighted when he was told of this, and promised to come up to the house and personally autograph it. Tragically that never happened, as Martin was to lose his life a few weeks later at the Tandragee 100. 'I and the family were shocked at Martin's death, and it really hit us very hard. Martin was very good to us, and yet deep down I knew that he left us doing something that he loved,' said Dean Dean's friendship with road race stars is very obvious, and when you look at his wall it is like the who's who of Irish racing. There are photos of Dean with Martin, Linda Dunlop (wife of the late Joey) and another of Dean with Robert Dunlop, and a very young William and Michael. 'Through a friend of mine, Ciaran Brennan, Robert enquired at the Tandragee 100, how is that young fellow in Monaghan, and tragically he was to lose his life two weeks later at the North West 200 practice,' said Dean. A few years ago Dean moved to Skerries, as his Balbrigganborn mam wanted to be close to home. This suited Dean to the ground, as he could be near to more racing courses. 'It is great, and at the Skerries and Killalane the club have a truck with a tail lift that is used for wheelchair fans, and this makes the day's racing more enjoyable,' said Dean. 'Living the Dream' is a quote that is used a lot in sport, and the riders who take to the TT Mountain course use it more than most. The TT is special, and like no other course in the world. Martin Finnegan loved the TT and I have no doubt that if he was still with us he would have won a few TTs by now. It was also a dream that lingered in Dean's head, and while he would never be in a position to race there, his next best option was to own a TT-winning bike. After a lot of work by his mother Mary, that dream did come true, when Michael Dunlop delivered the TT-winning bike to Dean's Skerries home, and it sits proudly at the end of his bed. 'I wake up some mornings and the smell of the petrol fumes are great and it really is the start to the day that anyone could ask for,' said Dean. Despite his brilliant present, Dean hopes to use the TT-winning bike as a fund-raising tool at the Skerries Road Race this year. 'I am hoping to get a fund-raising idea going with the Loughshinny Club, as Michael has agreed to ride the bike at Skerries, and I hope to collect money for the Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire as they were so good to me and I would like to return the favour, so hopefully we can get this off the ground,' said Dean. There is no doubt that Dean has the present of a lifetime, but yet he is a true race fan, and his love for the sport hasn't faltered, despite the challenges that his injuries bring to him. Dean eats and sleeps road racing, and while he doesn't get to many races he still knows everything that goes on in the sport. The TT is next on his agenda, but yet he still has the passion to raise money for the hospital that looked after him when he was at his lowest, and he really hopes that the fans at Skerries will show their support for his quest. I'm on facebook @arai45

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