independent

Thursday 28 August 2014

'Donal created a tidal wave of generosity'

Simon Brouder

Published 18/09/2013 | 17:17

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THE father of the late Donal Walsh says his son's powerful life-affirming message has inspired a global tidal wave of generosity and kindness that has spread far from Ireland and reached across the globe.

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Donal's father Fionnbar was speaking after he and his wife Elma picked up a posthumous People of The Year Award on their son's behalf in Dublin.

The young Blennerville man, who passed away last May aged 16 after a long battle with cancer, was awarded Joint Young Person of the Year for his courage, strength, determination and desire to show young people the true value and meaning of life.

Donal had used the final months and years of his life to deliver a stirring anti-suicide message urging young people to embrace life and say no to suicide.

That message has now spread across the globe reaching young people from as far afield as Hong Kong and Australia where awards have been set up in Donal's name.

"Never in our wildest dreams did we realise the impact he'd have," said Fionnbar Walsh.

"He threw a stone into a pond and created a tidal wave. It's incredible stuff," said Mr Walsh.

"He created a tidal wave of generosity and kindness. It wasn't something he went looking for but it has come to us. Now we want to make sure the message Donal spoke of continues and is perpetuated," said Fionnbar Walsh.

Donal's mother Elma said the family was "very proud of Donal and the legacy he left behind."

The award was presented to Fionnbar and Elma Walsh by RTE's Saturday Night Show host Brendan O'Connor, whose interview with Donal early this year brought Donal's story and his anti suicide plea to international attention.

The legacy Elma Walsh spoke of includes the creation of the Donal Walsh LiveLife foundation which was set up in his name to spread his message and raise money to fight suicide and provide age appropriate facilities for teenagers in hospitals.

This week Fionnbar and Elma Walsh are in New York at the invitation of Crumlin Children's Hospital where they are meeting with its US-based fundraising group to tell them Donal's story.

Meanwhile it's been announced that a video recording of Donal Walsh calling on young people to seek help if they are feeling suicidal will be circulated to all Irish schools in the coming weeks.

The Walsh family was contacted by the Minister of State with responsibility for mental heath, Kathleen Lynch, before Donal's passing, to see if he would be interested in recording his message.

He completed his video shortly before his death and it is to be rolled out to second-level schools as part of a HSE nationwide mental health campaign at the end of the month.

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