Tragedy for celebrity chef family as son (16) crushed
THE TEENAGE son of restaurateur Derry Clarke and his wife Sallyanne died tragically when the car he was working on fell on top of him.
Transition year student Andrew Clarke (16) – a promising racing driver – lost his battle for life yesterday following the accident on Thursday when a car he was fixing at the family home in Saggart, Co Dublin, collapsed on him.
His mother Sally Anne found him and called the emergency services, who rushed him to Tallaght Hospital.
"Andrew was always tinkering away on cars, it was?what he liked doing best," said a family friend.
His heartbroken parents last night described how their "darling, wonderful son Andrew has passed on" and said that they had decided to donate his organs.
"We are very proud to say that Andrew is donating his heart, lungs, liver and both kidneys to help others," the couple said.
His parents and sister Sarah May (22) thanked their friends for their prayers and support "through this extremely difficult time".
The family said arrangements for the funeral would be announced later.
Derry and Sallyanne run the well-known l'Ecrivain restaurant in central Dublin, and Derry is widely known from his television appearances.
Andrew, a 6ft 2in student at Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare, was a promising young racing car driver who finished in the top three of the Ginetta junior championships this year – a tournament for 14 to 17-year-olds.
"He showed great promise and had become one of the 'family' of young drivers," Ginetta Championship spokesman Paul Grogan said last night.
The junior championships only began in Ireland in 2010 and Andrew had been there at the start – quickly showing promise in what is regarded as a "proving ground" for up-and-coming racing drivers and achieving a number of podium finishes this year, he said.
"Andrew joined us in 2010 when the junior championships started and has been with us over the past three seasons – finishing third overall this year," Mr Grogan said.
"This is a proving ground for young drivers working their way up to bigger racing car classes and Andrew showed great promise."
In a driver profile on the Ginetta Junior Ireland website, Andrew described himself as a fourth year student whose hobbies were motorsport and rugby.
Asked when he first got behind the wheel, he joked: "When I was eight, and I went sideways."
He revealed that he first became interested in motorsport when he started doing motocross on a Yamaha bike at the age of nine.
Asked what personal goals he was setting for himself, Andrew said: "I am going to enjoy myself and do as well as I can."
Last night, the restaurant industry reacted with shock at the tragic news.
Restaurant Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins said that at a time when everyone should be celebrating the new year, their thoughts were with Derry Clarke and his family.
As Andrew lay critically injured in hospital, Twitter was inundated with messages of sympathy as friends rallied round and prayed that he would pull through.
"I know you can do it Andy, please pull through, we all love you," one tweet said.
Another friend wrote: "God has enough angels to last him a life time, let us keep one down here on earth."
But as news that he had lost his battle against his injuries filtered out, one friend wrote, "Rest in peace Andy Clarke, god bless, always in our hearts."
Another said: "Absolutely horrible news, gone far too soon."
One of Ireland's leading chefs, Dublin-born Mr Clarke (55) and his wife Sallyanne run the successful l'Ecrivain restaurant on Dublin's Baggot Street.
Opened in 1989, the Michelin star restaurant has picked up numerous accolades over the past two decades including best restaurant and best chef awards.
Mr Clarke trained in the classical French tradition in Kinsale and trained under the direction of John Howard in Le Coq Hardi for several years before working as head chef in Le Bon Appetit restaurant for eight years.
Mr Clarke was last seen in public enjoying the Leopardstown Christmas festival on St Stephen's Day.
"Racing is not about winning and losing for us," he told the Irish Independent.
"It's about enjoying the day and that's the same for a lot of people who come here," he said.
"I've been doing it a long time and it's just fantastic fun.
"This is my first time here on St Stephen's Day, though – normally for me it's about watching a movie lying on the couch," he added.