Thursday 17 October 2019

Loved ones to take on Camino in Bobby's name

The late Bobby Messett
The late Bobby Messett

Mary Fogarty

A year since the tragic death of Bobby Messett, six women will be celebrating his memory by taking on the iconic Camino trail, in the hope of raising €20,000 for a new EEG for the neonatal ICU at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street.

Bobby (50), was at Bray Boxing Club for his early-morning workout on the morning of June 5, 2018, when a gunman opened fire, fatally injuring Bobby and wounding two others.

Starting on June 1, 2019, his partner Natalie, ex-wife Jackie, daughter Demi-leigh, sister Paula, niece Hayley and friend Laurna will take on a 114km section of the Camino. They will cover their own expenses, so all funds raised will go directly to the cause in Bobby's honour. He had hoped to do something significant to raise money for the ICU and sadly didn't survive to do so.

'Our third granddaughter Poppie was born in Holles Street in 2016,' said Jackie. 'She needed therapeutic cooling in the ICU. When we were in visiting her we were told a family had donated the machine Poppie was in. So Bobby said he was definitely going to do something, be it a triathlon or something, to raise money for Holles Street.'

Poppie had been deprived of oxygen because of complications at birth and she was in the unit for 72 hours to reduce the risk of any damage. The little girl ultimately thrived and Bobby wanted to help other families in need of vital emergency care.

'He was always doing something for charity and he would have done more,' said Natalie.

As Bobby is no longer with them, his family and friends have decided to take on his mission and raise the money he no doubt would have produced.

In 2015, Bobby did an incredible kayak row from Northern Ireland to Scotland, raising money for the Shane Vickers trust. This was just one example of his community-mindedness and selflessness. Kilmacanogue man Shane had suffered life-changing injuries in an accident. 'Bobby had never been in a kayak before,' said Natalie. 'He went to Blessington lakes a couple of times a week and trained for months. He was the first to get to Scotland and he broke the world record!'

Bobby's daughter Demi-leigh is a student midwife at Holles St. She liaised with the ICU to find out what requirements they have. They chose the €20,000 target for the EEG and set up an everydayhero page, under the title 'Bobby Messett's Mission'.

In Bobby's native Kilmacanogue, Glencormac FC and other locals previously held a soccer tournament and golf classic to help support the family. After funeral expenses, a surplus of more than €6,000 will also be paid into this fund for the EEG.

Ladies Workout Express in Bray is planning two 10km walks, one on Wednesday, April 24 at 10 a.m. and another on Thursday, April 25 at 6.30 p.m. Participants do not have to be members of the gym and it's €10 to take part. At Doran's pharmacy in Ballybrack, Jackie's place of work, they are holding a coffee morning this Friday, April 12, and the owners will match any sum raised on the day.

There will be bag-packing in Tesco Arklow, where Bobby's son Gary works, and there are some collection buckets in places such as Pluck's in Kilmacanogue and Coffee Delights in Bray. Karl O'Rourke Fitness raised €400 by collecting at a night out, and over 60 members are going to do Hell and Back in aid of the fund, along with Bobby's children.

'We really want to do the Camino each year, and the fact that we're doing it on his anniversary is significant,' said Natalie.

While this time they are doing six days and the final section, they hope to build up the distance over the years. They all have a good fitness level and feel prepared for the challenge.

The women said that people have been so generous and supportive. If there is any silver lining to be gleaned from such a deeply sad occurrence, it is that communities have looked after a family thrust into mourning so suddenly and with such violence.

'The people of Kilmacanogue have been absolutely fantastic,' said Jackie. 'I've never seen a community like them.'

Bobby, who lived in Bray, was a very special and generous person. His loss is keenly felt, but his loved ones are coping well.

'It's brought us all closer,' said Natalie. 'Jackie and I have become the best of friends throughout this. The family have been just amazing. My family are back in Liverpool, I just have my son here. It would have been a lonely place if I didn't have their support. Everyone's got their strength from him I think.'

Jackie said that while it has been 10 months since Bobby's death, it feels like no time at all has passed.

'We're all really positive people and really able to see the good,' said Natalie. 'Bobby wouldn't sit down and dwell on anything. He wouldn't like to see us doing that.'

They are embracing the idea of having something positive to concentrate on. 'We started planning this ages ago so it's kept us going,' said Jackie.

She said that the children, Bobby, Gary and Demi, are doing 'remarkably well', getting through even those days and weeks that are particularly hard.

'You never think in a million years you'd be thrown in to a situation like this, ever,' said Jackie. 'It's something that happens to somebody else.' It felt dreamlike, they said, to receive the terrible news that morning, and sometimes it still does.

Bray People