Tuesday 22 May 2018

'What a privilege to have known him' - Dermot Bannon pays tribute after tragic death of Room to Improve star Michael Stokes (15)

Young man stole hearts of nation on Room to Improve and Late Late

Michael Stokes on RTE's The Late Late Show three months ago.
Michael Stokes on RTE's The Late Late Show three months ago.

Ryan Nugent and Geraldine Gittens

ARCHITECT Dermot Bannon has paid tribute to an "amazing" teenager who stole the heart of the nation with his appearance on 'Room To Improve' and who has sadly passed away following an accident.

Michael Stokes (15) was the star of the show in 2016, when Bannon redesigned the Malahide home of his foster parents, Ann Higgins and Barry McCabe, in order to make it more wheelchair-friendly.

Michael passed away peacefully on Saturday, his death notice said he died "in the wonderful care of the staff of Temple Street Children's Hospital".

Bannon shared a photo of Michael on his Instagram account today, following the sad news of the teenager's death.

He wrote: "What a privilege to have known this amazing young man."

What a privilege to have known this amazing young man

A post shared by Dermot Bannon (@dermotbannon) on

During the episode of the hit TV show, he famously told Dermot to "go back to the drawing board" with his plans.

Michael with his foster parents Anne Higgins and Barry McCabe at Croke Park for the Westlife farewell concert in 2012
Michael with his foster parents Anne Higgins and Barry McCabe at Croke Park for the Westlife farewell concert in 2012

Michael - who was wheelchair-bound - regularly visited his foster parents for respite breaks from residential accommodation, and his incredible positive attitude and demeanour struck a chord with viewers.

In a memorable appearance on 'The Late Late Show' earlier this year, Michael told the audience how he first met Ann and Barry.

Remember Michael and Barry from one of the most talked about episodes of Room to Improve? The house got the Dermot Bannon treatment to make things easier for Michael, and since then he has moved in #latelate

Posted by The Late Late Show on Friday, February 16, 2018

“I knew Ann because she was my teacher when I was seven years old and then I met Barry at my communion party.”

Barry added: “Ann used to come home and talk about the school, this happened, that happened, invariably Mike was always the centre of it. So I said I have to meet this guy, so we went, met him at his Communion party and we said we’d go out with him the odd time. So it started off we took him out for one day a month, and then it went every two weeks, once a week and before you knew it, it was weekends.”

“At the time, Michael was coming to stay with us once every couple of weeks, and he’d stay for the weekend and literally what we did was we brought a bed downstairs. It was as simple as that.”

“He used to always be pushing, can we do a doubler (Friday and Saturday),” Barry joked.

After Dermot Bannon's redesign on the Malahide home, Michael was able to stay there every day, he told Ryan Tubridy.

"I have my own bed, I have my own desk. It's everything, I love everything, everything is at my level," he said.

Dermot Bannon looks on as Michael Stokes tells RTE's The Late Late Show how he transformed his foster parents' home.
Dermot Bannon looks on as Michael Stokes tells RTE's The Late Late Show how he transformed his foster parents' home.

“It’s brilliant, we couldn’t be happier," Barry explained.

Joking that he missed a Friday night of pizza with friends to appear on the Late Late Show, Michael gave a shout out to his friends just before saying goodbye to Tubridy.

“Hi guys, I hope you’re having a great party.”

Today, Ryan Tubridy was among those paying tribute to the young man.

"The magic whirlwind, Michael Stokes, died on Saturday aged 15," Tubridy wrote on Instagram.

"He was an unforgettable soul and we are all so sad today."

Michael's funeral will take place at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Seabury, Malahide, Co Dublin, tomorrow at 10am.

Irish Independent

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life