Monday 18 November 2019

How a chance encounter with Smurfit bags CF charity a €10k windfall

GENEROUS: Michael Smurfit
GENEROUS: Michael Smurfit
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

A group of Irish cyclists were left astonished when a chance encounter with businessman Dr. Michael Smurfit led to a windfall for a good cause.

Dr. Barry Jones, a father of two children with cystic fibrosis - one of whom recently passed away - was part of a team cycling from Rome to Nice to raise funds for the charity.

He explains how the group were finishing the 840km trek when some of the team decided to go to look at the yachts on the waterfront in Monte Carlo before finishing their journey.

"There were 23 cyclists in total on the cycle and I was in the fast group," he laughs, "so a few of the other guys were coming behind and they decided to stop and have a look at the boats. They spotted a man descending from one of the boats, who happened to be Dr. Smurfit. He chatted to them for a while and asked about their jerseys, which showed they were cycling in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

"As they were turning to leave he whispered to one of them, put me down for €10,000. It was incredibly generous. They were delighted.

"The next day, off his own bat, he had his personal assistant ring the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to get the bank account details and transfer the money," he said.

"It's really moving to see how Dr. Smurfit and so many other people helped out. My wife Aisling organised a lunch in Chapter One and the restaurant provided all the food and service on the day for free and all the money went towards the charity. The Irish are really great at putting their shoulders behind the wheel. It was a very gratifying experience to meet so many good people and see the other 22 cyclists doing everything they could for the charity," Dr. Jones added.

The group have managed to raise €70,000, which will go towards specific purposes for CF patients, including funding physiotherapists to attend the homes of children with cystic fibrosis.

Dr. Jones and his wife had two children with cystic fibrosis. Their daughter, Becky, passed away four years ago at the age of 20, while their son Jack is 20-years-old, doing well and attending college.

Sunday Independent

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