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Sunday 9 December 2018

William Dunlop fans raise thousands for grieving partner who is due to give birth to second baby

William Dunlop and his partner Janine arrive at the Adelaide Motorcycle Awards in Belfast in 2014. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/1/2014.
William Dunlop and his partner Janine arrive at the Adelaide Motorcycle Awards in Belfast in 2014. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON PACEMAKER, BELFAST, 17/1/2014.

Victoria Leonard

Fans of the late William Dunlop have raised thousands of pounds to support his pregnant partner, young daughter and their unborn child.

The 32-year-old is understood to have been killed instantly while riding his Temple Golf Club Yamaha during practice for the Skerries 100 in Co Dublin on Saturday afternoon.

He is survived by his partner Janine, who is due to give birth in September.

His daughter Ella's second birthday is on Sunday.

William's funeral will take place at Garryduff Presbyterian Church at 1pm tomorrow, after which he will be laid to rest in the same graveyard as his father Robert and uncle Joey.

In the funeral notice, the Dunlop family described William as the "loving partner of Janine, devoted father of Ella, much-loved son of Louise and the late Robert and dearest brother of Daniel and Michael".

The notice added that he was "lovingly remembered by his sorrowing family and the entire family circle".

The family has asked for donations in lieu of flowers to be sent to the Injured Riders' Welfare Fund.

On Sunday afternoon, family friend Adrian Fegan of Crossan Motorcycles Ltd, whose bikes were ridden by Robert and Michael Dunlop, launched a fundraising page to offer practical help to William's young family.

On Tuesday morning, the page had raised more than £13,000 - surpassing the original target within 24 hours.

Adrian told the Belfast Telegraph that the initiative had the backing of the Dunlop family.

"The road-racing community is very close-knit and a lot of people realise the circumstances with William's partner and children," he said.

"When there are young ones left behind it's even more heart-wrenching and difficult to deal with.

"Money will never buy back what Janine has lost, but a few months down the road it will be one less worry for her.

"At times like these, people ask what they can do to help and this is a good way to show solidarity to the family.

"The page has been well supported - the Dunlop dynasty are legends in Ireland, Britain and all over the world.

"I knew from the response we had when the page launched that we would meet the £10,000 target and it would be nice to get to £20,000 or even more."

Heartbroken Adrian said he had known William "since he was a nipper".

"He was a really nice bloke, he reminded me a lot of his uncle Joey," he said.

"People can't speak highly enough of him.

"His father Robert rode for me twice on three-year contracts and we had a very good relationship.

"I remember when Joey was killed in 2000 and Robert was riding for me.

"The rumours were that Robert would quit, but after three or four weeks I got a call from him to ask if the bike was ready.

"He knew I was going to race in Kells and he asked if the Audi was ready.

"He made the decision himself to keep going, just as William made the decision to keep going after his father was killed," he added.

"Two days after Robert's death in the North West 200, the boys raced and Michael won.

"Everybody knows there is a risk, it's in the back of your mind and it doesn't go away.

"But it's in their blood."

Adrian said he expected there to be a guard of honour of motorcyclists at the funeral tomorrow. William's remains are expected to come home this morning.

Books of condolence were opened yesterday, with Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Brenda Chivers describing William Dunlop as a "fantastic sporting legend".

"The entire borough has been left shocked and saddened with the tragic events that unfolded at the weekend," she said.

Books of condolence were opened at Ballymoney Town Hall, Coleraine Town Hall, Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre in Limavady and Sheskburn House in Ballycastle.

Belfast Telegraph

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