He had the most amazing laugh, a big infectious laugh, and you couldn’t help laugh at his laugh. He would let nothing stop him.
The words of John Paul Coyle’s little sister, Maria, remembering her beloved big brother as the family of the popular young Derry man prepare to host a memorial fundraising walk for the charity he supported during his life-time.
John Paul Coyle’s family decided to mark what would have been his 41st birthday week following a huge outpouring of support from right across the city.
John Paul (affectionately known to many as J.P.) died suddenly on February 19 last as a result of a previously undiagnosed heart condition, Cardiomyopathy.
He was well known across Derry as someone who helped, supported and inspired many people, particularly those experiencing difficulties and hardships in their life and he would often communicate with people by ‘tapping in’ with them via social media, or when he chatted with them on the street during his long walks. In keeping with his concern for the welfare of others, J.P. was also someone who actively supported local charity, St Vincent De Paul.
The John Paul Coyle Memorial Walk will take place next Saturday, August 11, moving off from the bottom of Brooke Park at 12 noon and the Coyle family have urged anyone interested to simply come along on the day. A ‘Go Fund Me page’ has also been set up for anyone who wishes to make a donation.
John Paul’s parents, Vincent and Jennifer and his sister Maria, said family and friends have been very keen to continue his legacy of good deeds to help others. His good friends Bob McLaughlin and ‘Soupy’ Campbell are also organising an ‘Appreciation Night for Big Johnny’ in the Phoenix Bar to take place after the walk tomorrow week, from 8pm.
Vincent Coyle said: “There was such a huge outpouring after John Paul passed away, everybody remembers him from him being out walking, meeting people. People were always saying about how positive he was and how, if you were having a bad day and you met Johnny, he left you feeling 10 feet tall.
“When we approached St. Vincent De Paul to ask if we could continue his work they were overwhelmed. St Vincent De Paul do so much good work in this city and have helped so many people.”
Jennifer added: “John Paul was very outgoing, He loved life, he walked constantly. He liked St Vincent De Paul and he always supported them. The priest after, John Paul died, said whenever he would meet him down in the chapel, he would always have put his money into the wee St Vincent De Paul box.”
John Paul’s relatives, including his sisters Jenny, Charlotte and Maria recently unveiled a banner they had made to promote the walk they are organising.
Paying tribute to her inspirational big brother, Maria said “He was very kind. He would have come to you with wee random gifts just out of nowhere. He always brought you Rosary Beads and Holy Candles because he was very spiritual.
“John Paul and I were very close. He was amazing at giving a ‘pep talk’ and telling you how amazing you were. Say if your head wasn’t really in it, he would always have positive words for you. He loved going to ‘Pure Gym’ and walking. He would let nothing stop him.”
Maria said that like her relatives, she was struck by the positive impact John Paul had had on so many people. “I knew John Paul was well-known, but to see how loved he was, really took me back. I understood why people loved him, of course, but it was mind-blowing.
“His funeral was massive and I am so glad he got the send off he did because he deserved it, he really did. He was trending number one on Facebook when he died and I remember thinking he would have loved that, because he loved Facebook.”
Vincent added: “He loved the interaction on Facebook, helping people with issues. He would tell people get yourself out walking, meeting people, talking to people, lift your mind, get out there. He could talk with anyone and connect with anyone.”
“That kept him going too,” Maria said. “He would have had mental health struggles too but he just soldiered through them and he was so strong. He helped to make us strong. His strength was something else. I loved John Paul’s outlook on life, he didn’t care what people thought, he just went ahead and did it anyway.”
The Memorial Walk will follow a route John Paul loved to walk, along the Northland Road to Buncrana Road, returning along the Strand Road and back to Brooke Park. Support vehicles for people with mobility difficulties who wish to participate, will be provided on the day and all money raised will go to St. Vincent De Paul. The family are also hoping those who can, will join them in wearing green T-shirts for the walks, as this was one of his favourite colours.
John Paul’s sisters have set up the hashtag #tappingin and are hopeful those turning out on the day will use this in memory of all the tap-ins he did on social media. For more information on the walk and fundraising check out ‘JP COYLE charity walk’ Facebook page at www.facebook.com/johnpaulcoyleStVincentDePaul/
Donations can be made at the Go Fund Me page at www.gofundme.com/5r4wicg