Fortwilliam flying the flag for local charity

World junior golf champion Tom McKibbin (13), from Newtownabbey, who presented the Ladies Prize at the NI Children's Hospice charity day at Forwilliam Golf Club which raised over �6,000.  From left Maureen Shields, Mairead Craig, Alacaoque Logan and Josephine McKenna. INNT 39-835CON
World junior golf champion Tom McKibbin (13), from Newtownabbey, who presented the Ladies Prize at the NI Children's Hospice charity day at Forwilliam Golf Club which raised over �6,000. From left Maureen Shields, Mairead Craig, Alacaoque Logan and Josephine McKenna. INNT 39-835CON

A former Newtownabbey man, now living in America, had a toast proposed in his absence at a golf charity day in aid of the NI Children’s Hospice.

John Kirker, who hails from Whitehouse and regularly visits relatives here, provided the star prize at the auction which followed the outing at Fortwilliam Golf Club which raised over £6,000.

Mr Kirker works for the American telecoms company AT&T which sponsors top golfer Jordan Speith and he persuaded colleagues to get the former World No 1 to sign a FedEx Cup flag. The flag was mailed to event organiser Ivan McMichael, a past captain of Fortwilliam, who met Mr Kirker at The Masters in Augusta last April.

Another Fortwilliam member John Linehan (aka May McFetridfge) conducted the auction and kept the bids flowing until the flag was eventually sold for £250.

Catherine O’Hara, the Children’s Hospice community fund-raising officer, said she was overwhelmed by the generosity of the Fortwilliam members and their friends. She added: “I would also like to pay tribute to the captain and council of Fortwilliam for giving us the use of their course. Their decision to waive green fees added a significant amount to the £6,000 that was raised.”

Mr McMichael is already making plans for the third running of the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice charity day next August when Mr Kirker hopes to fly over and enter a four-man team.

Said Ivan, a retired journalist: “I am most grateful to our sponsors and Fortwilliam members for their generosity and look forward to their continued support next year.”