Spirit of Michaela helps brave John smile once again
AFTER two harrowing months in Mauritius, John McAreavey finally had reason to smile as he celebrated the spirit of his murdered bride Michaela yesterday.
He put the pain of last week's not guilty verdict to one side as he joined in the fun at the closing ceremony of the Michaela Foundation girls' summer camp in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone.
He was seen laughing and smiling as he celebrated with the camp leaders and the 70 young girls who took part in the week-long event.
The camp ended with the girls forming a "human Rosary" with each of them holding a balloon, which was released into the sky in a symbol of hope for the future.
John has been involved in the foundation from the outset and yesterday spoke of Michaela's legacy.
"I wanted to establish a camp for young girls aged 11-13 that would provide them with an environment that reflects the core values of the Michaela Foundation, whilst having the most fun a camp can offer," he explained.
"My vision for the summer camp, which I worked on last year, was based on five core elements -- faith, fashion, fun, Irish and well-being."
Schoolteacher Michaela's touch -- her love of Irish culture, her commitment to her faith and her fun-loving spirit -- was evident as the young girls took part in various activities from cupcake design and healthy eating to building self-confidence, Irish singing and understanding the Rosary.
Her father, Tyrone football manager Mickey Harte, took time out from his team's preparations for today's clash with Kerry and visited the camp throughout the week.
He said it surpassed his expectations: "We anticipated a wonderful week and it was more than we could ever have imagined.
"The level of support from the volunteers and many other generous individuals has ensured that the girls had the best week of their lives."
Meanwhile, John's sister, Anne McAreavey, volunteered at the camp as a youth leader.
"There was so much happening in this camp; only those who attended will truly appreciate the Michaela girls' camp experience," she said.
John and the Harte family established the foundation as a way of commemorating and celebrating the 27-year-old's life following her murder while on honeymoon in Mauritius in January 2011.
Last week, two men were found not guilty of Michaela's murder following a lengthy trial.