Tom McKibbin, the young golf star tipped to follow in the footsteps of Rory McIlory, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell, has been unveiled as an Official Ambassador to the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.
The Newtownabbey, Co Antrim-born 13-year-old is the youngest Ambassador appointed by Northern Ireland’s only Children’s Hospice. A pupil at Belfast Royal Academy, Tom lives a short distance from Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.
Tom rose to prominence in his sport in 2015 when he won the World Kids’ Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina. In January, 2016, he won the Junior Honda Classic tournament in Florida, USA. This month he featured in the Irish Open ProAm event following an invitation from Rory McIlroy.
In between his two amazing competitive victories that left the world of golf in admiration for Tom’s talent, he took up an invitation visit to Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice and spent an evening with young teenage patients.
Tom said: “I would pass Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice on the way to school and often would find myself wondering what happens in the building and about the people who would use it.
“It was only when I got an opportunity to visit did I realise that the reality of the children’s hospice was far from what I imagined. It’s a really fun place, like a home from home, and I found it very welcoming. I met kids my age and we had lots in common – we had pizza and talked about video games.
“To be invited to become an official ambassador to Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice is a real honour - it’s a special honour for my family too. I have a relationship with the children’s hospice now and I’m excited about raising awareness of this amazing organisation and the amazing work it provides for children with life-limiting conditions.”
Northern Ireland Hospice Chairman Billy Webb said: “It’s not every day a blossoming teenager is asked to become an ambassador of an organisation but in Tom we saw a local face who people already admire and look up to.
“People will listen to Tom today and in the future – and it is vital that Northern Ireland’s only children’s hospice has a voice and a personality such as Tom’s, to raise awareness of what we do at Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, and what it takes to continue to provide the highest quality care to children with life-limiting and end of life conditions.
“We care for more than 300 children per year in Northern Ireland and with hospices in Belfast and Co Fermanagh, it costs more than £3m per annum to provide this care. We depend heavily on the public’s generosity to raise £2.5m of this running cost, and so challenges such as this will be taken on with a great deal of confidence with Tom’s support as an ambassador. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to welcome him to our organisation and family.”