'The gift of having Aaron in our life outweighs the pain we now feel' - dad of boy (12) who died suddenly
The father of a young soccer player who died suddenly after being hospitalised with a high fever has asked people to wear splashes of his favourite colour, red, to his funeral.
Aaron O'Kelly, from the Herbert Road area of Bray, Co Wicklow, had taken ill at home last week with a high temperature.
On Saturday he collapsed at his home and was taken to Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin where he tragically passed away.
Aaron was a talented goalkeeper with his local Ardmore Rovers club, where his dad Paul is a valued member and coach.
His devastated dad, has released a statement via the club, on behalf of Aaron’s mum, Sharon, and sister and brother, Eleanor and Robert.
"We have received great comfort from the messages of support that have come from Aaron’s team mates, their families and the wider Ardmore Rovers family," Mr O'Kelly said.
"Playing for his team and representing his club was a huge part of his short life and an incredible source of happiness for him.
"We would like the funeral to celebrate Aaron’s life and would ask people to wear splashes of Red which was Aaron’s favorite colour. Ardmore jerseys will be a welcome sight.
"While we are broken we realise that the gift we had having Aaron in our life for such a short period outweighs the pain we now feel.
"Thank you all for your support."
Funeral arrangements are being finalised and will be published on RIP.ie according to Mr O'Kelly.
Following his sudden death Ardmore Rovers also paid tribute to Aaron on its Facebook page, leading to an outpouring of messages of sympathy from the local and wider community.
"Ardmore Rovers football club is greatly saddened by the news of the passing of one of its young footballers, Aaron O'Kelly, aged 12.
"Aaron epitomised the spirit of the club and he was a very popular and friendly figure in his team.
"As goalkeeper, he helped his under 12 team win its DDSL league before Christmas as well as picking up the Player of the Year award in the same season," said the club.
"His dad Paul, has managed Aaron's team for several years and is a valued member of our club.
"Ardmore Rovers and all its members would like to send its condolences to the O'Kelly family at this very sad time," it added.
The FAI also issued a statement, passing on their condolences to the family and friends of Aaron.
"The thoughts and prayers from members of the Football Family are with Aaron's family and friends at this difficult time.
"We will remember Aaron at our next home Republic of Ireland men's senior international."
Other football clubs also sent messages of sorrow to Ardmore Rovers yesterday.
A statement from local club Bray Wanderers read: "Bray Wanderers FC would like to express our deepest sympathies to the family of young Aaron O'Kelly who passed away yesterday.
"Goalkeeper Aaron was a member of Ardmore Rovers U12s here in Bray.
"During this difficult period we also keep Aaron's friends and team mates in Ardmore Rovers in our thoughts. RIP Aaron."
Another message said: "Condolences from all of us at St Maelruans FC ... very tragic news, RIP Aaron."
Shelbourne and Tolka Rovers football clubs also expressed condolence. The O'Kelly family now face the heartbreaking task of organising Aaron's funeral.
The family has requested that those attending the funeral wear read in memory of Aaron and asked that any donations be made to Bray First Responders.
"Those who are attending the funeral, please wear something red to celebrate Aaron’s life. No flowers by request. Donations can be made in memory of Aaron, to Bray First Responders," the family said in a statement.
Bray Sinn Féin councillor Michael O'Connor offered his condolences to the family.
"It's an absolute tragedy and heartbreaking for the poor family," he said.
The HSE and Our Lady's Hospital in Crumlin said they were not in a position to comment on individual cases.