Monday 16 September 2019

Motorcycle riders stage memorial run to remember 'force of nature' who lost his life in Greek wildfires

Zoe Holohan, wife of the late Brian O'Callaghan Westropp, with Adrian Casey 'Adey', best friend of Brian, who is riding Brian's bike on the trip. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Zoe Holohan, wife of the late Brian O'Callaghan Westropp, with Adrian Casey 'Adey', best friend of Brian, who is riding Brian's bike on the trip. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Riders at the start of Brian O'Callaghan Westropp Memorial Rideout/Blood Bikes East. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Riders at the start of Brian O'Callaghan Westropp Memorial Rideout/Blood Bikes East (l-r) Una Barrett, from Leixlip, Pam O'Callaghan, from Moyvalley, Kildare, Ger Ganley, from Knocklyon, and Jacqui Mates, from Tallaght. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Neil Fetherson

Dozens of motorcycle riders took to the roads today for the first-ever Brian O’Callaghan-Westropp Memorial Run, which was staged to remember the “force of nature” behind the charity Blood Bikes East.

Brian, who was the organisation's secretary and financial manager, sadly passed away in the 2018 Greek wildfires, just four days after his wedding to Zoe Holohan.

READ MORE: 'He had an enthusiasm for life' - Family friend pays tribute to Irishman tragically killed in Greek wildfires

Zoe - who works for the Sunday World newspaper - saw off the more than 60 riders before they set off from Ashbourne in Co Meath to Clonmel in Co Tipperary.

Blood Bikes East (BBE), a volunteer courier service of elite bikers that transports urgent medical supplies - has operated free of charge since 2012.

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Riders at the start of Brian O'Callaghan Westropp Memorial Rideout/Blood Bikes East. Picture: Caroline Quinn

“I can’t express how proud I am of Brian’s achievements and of his involvement in Blood Bikes East ,” Zoe said. “This charity was so important to him, so it will always be incredibly close to my heart.

“This last year has been desperately hard without him by my side, but cheering on the Blood Bikes East crew and watching Brian’s best friend Adey lead off the run, makes me feel just that little bit closer to him. Brian is definitely with us today.”

Brian’s best friend, Adrian Casey, rode Brian’s own bike on the run.

“I was Brian’s best mate,” said Adrian. “It’s an honour to be riding Brian’s bike out today after he rode it out last year. I think that what he brought to Blood Bikes is amazing.

"They now have three cars and seven motorbikes on the road. Brian was a really good business-headed man and he brought a lot of good ideas to Blood Bikes. As I said, I’m very proud and happy to be here doing this on his behalf.”

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Riders at the start of Brian O'Callaghan Westropp Memorial Rideout/Blood Bikes East (l-r) Una Barrett, from Leixlip, Pam O'Callaghan, from Moyvalley, Kildare, Ger Ganley, from Knocklyon, and Jacqui Mates, from Tallaght. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Riding right behind Adrian was Brendan Conroy, the chairman of BBE, who described Brian as a force of nature.

“BBE was lucky to have had him as part of our highly successful management team,” Brendan said.

“Brian brought the organisation into a strong financial position where we could build the fleet to three cars and seven motorcycles.

“Because of Brian’s financial leadership, we can continue to meet the increased demand for our free emergency medical transport service within our four key areas - hospital support; family home support; human breast milk support; and our national network of blood bike groups support - whatever the weather.”

Brendan added that the fantastic weather for the ride showed that Brian was with them on the day.

“He’s done us a great favour today,” he added. “It’s a poignant day, but a happy one. It’s a celebration of his life.

“Most of our funding comes from the public and days like today,” he added.

“Brian led out the first Riders4Life motorcycle run last year, but was sadly killed just a few months later.

"But because of his enthusiasm, and sheer brilliance in relation to his organisational  ability, we wanted to remember him especially. We have done that today by naming this event after him.

“We are also been getting great support from everyone here, from the Ashbourne  Motorcycle Company as well as the gardaí and all our supporters.

“Zoe helped set us off today and later tonight we are meeting her and Brian’s friends for a celebration.”

Since its inception, BBE has saved Dublin hospitals an estimated €760,000, all done through donations, money, time and equipment. Blood Bikes East relies entirely on public donations and corporate sponsorships.

To donate to Blood Bikes East click here or visit the website at www.riders4life.ie/.

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