The family of popular Derry man John Paul Coyle said they were heartened and delighted that so many people turned out to join them on a charity walk in his memory last weekend.
Hundreds of people gathered over the course of the JP Coyle Memorial Walk from Brooke Park, following a route John Paul himself would often have walked down through the ‘Branch’ and back up towards the city centre.
Many of those gathered wore T-shirts and badges in memory of John Paul , who passed away suddenly in February as a result of a previously undiagnosed heart condition, aged just 40.
His friends also organised a charity night at the Phoenix Bar on Saturday and the proceeds from both the walk and the function will be donated to St Vincent dePaul, a charity John Paul actively supported during his life.
John Paul’s father, Vincent, said yesterday that the walk was so successful they are now planning to make it an annual event, to remember John Paul, raise funds for charity and to carry on the legacy of support he had given to so many facing mental health or other challenges in their lives.
Mr Coyle said: “The family was overwhelmed by the support from all the community in Derry. The weather forecast the night before said there was an 80 per cent chance of rain and my daughter Jenny said a wee prayer and said ‘We will take the 20 per cent sunshine’ and her prayer was answered.
“It was a beautiful day and there were people in prams; people carrying children; all of them walking with our family in a healing way, keeping John Paul’s memory alive and raising money for St Vincent dePaul. We also sent a message to anyone suffering any mental health or addiction problems to talk to their friends and their families.
“There were a lot of people having conversation along the walk and catching up with one another and it was the ordinary people of Derry, the salt of the city, who came out to support us.”
Mr. Coyle said he and his family very much felt John Paul’s presence walking with them and supporting them during the event.
“It gave me great strength and I felt John Paul was carrying me through,” Vincent said.
Mr. Coyle said his family wanted to thank all those who came out to the walk and the evening event, including members of Paul’s Campaign and also John Paul’s friends Bob McLaughlin and Soupy Campbell, who had organised the charity night at The Phoenix.
“The evening was a great success, with raffles and a lot of money raised for St Vincent de Paul. It was a truly amazing and thoroughly beautiful day and John Paul’s spirit was there,” Vincent concluded.