Fundraising tribute to popular Ryan
A fundraising appeal set up in memory of young Gilford man Ryan Conn, who died suddenly just over a week ago, has raised well over £8,000 for PIPs Hope and Support so far.
And the fundraising in memory of the popular 24-year-old is to continue with a charity dunk/swim for PIPS to take place on Easter Sunday.
The fundraising efforts, which will also be added to by donations in lieu of flowers, reflect a huge outpouring of grief across the local community after Ryan’s sudden passing on Sunday March 21.
Rebecca McBurney launched a just giving page in memory of Ryan on her birthday, a few days after her close friend died.
Her target was to raise £300 but donations to the justgiving page which can be found at (www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ourfriendryanconn) soon outstripped that total.
Rebecca’s message on the page states: “Ryan was the light that honestly would of lit up any room. He had the biggest smile and the biggest heart. He was a friend to so many of us.
“Things just will never be the same. The hole in our hearts will never be filled and our hearts go out to his family.
“We love you Ryan Conn and we will never forget you. The gentle giant, big Ryan, King Conn.”
Among the messages on the justgiving page is one which states: “RIP Ryan. Still helping others even now.”
Meanwhile the fundraising dunk/swim is being organised by The Punch Drunk Dunkers who will meet at Newcastle Yacht Club at 12 noon on Sunday.
And donations in lieu of flowers are being sent to PIPS Hope & Support, Newry, c/o Heaney Keenan Funeral Directors, Head Office, 53 Patrick Street, Newry, BT35 8EB.
Ryan’s funeral took place at St Patrick and Colman’s Church in Laurencetown with many friends lining the route to and from the chapel and a large turnout of customised cars, one of Ryan’s passions, taking part in the cortege.
Fr Gerald Powell, addressing the small congregation of family members, as well as online viewers, said Ryan was affectionately know by his parents as “our big son”.
Fr Powell said: “Ryan was a very popular young man with friends of all faiths, but Ryan was most loved at home, where he was affectionately known by his parents as ‘our big son’, and by his sisters, Emma and Sarah, as ‘my Ryan’. He was both loved and adored, and he knew he was.
He told how Ryan had suffered from a bout of depression but had made a good recovery and had taken up training at Gilford Boxing Club. Fr Powell told how on the Saturday evening of his death Ryan appeared in “great form” and following a meal with his parents went out with friends but did not return home.
The priest added: “Personally I didn’t think Ryan wanted to die. It was a moment of uncertainty. He forgot how to live.”
Among many tributes to Ryan on social media Downshire Guiding Star Flute Band said Ryan was “A great friend of many of the lads in our band and many within the band scene in Banbridge”.
Gilford Amateur Boxing Club said Ryan would be remembered for “one of the most entertaining fights the Gilford Legion has ever seen.
Banbridge Rangers Football Club said Ryan’s passing had had “a profound effect on those around the club.”
PIPS can be contacted on 0800 088 6042, at www.pipscharity.com or on their facebook page.