William Dunlop’s partner Janine Brolly and mother Louise paid a heart-warming tribute to the Ballymoney road racer as he was posthumously inducted into Irish motorcycling’s Hall of Fame.
One of the sport’s leading exponents, the 32-year-old died after a crash during practice for the Skerries 100 last July.
At the Cornmarket Motorbike Awards at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Belfast on Friday night, Janine revealed that she hoped to establish the William Dunlop Foundation in William’s memory, with the aim of supporting children who have suffered the loss of a parent.
In front of a sell-out crowd at the annual prize night, Janine carried herself with remarkable dignity as she paid a moving tribute to William and accepted the award on his behalf, along with his mother Louise.
Janine said: “It’s a real honour to be here tonight. The legacy that William has left as a sportsperson and the way that he is thought of is due to the person behind the visor.
“He was so special and he is missed so much and the legacy he has left is tremendous; I now have the privilege of raising his two greatest legacies (daughters Ella, 2 and Willa Wren, who was born in September).
“I know that William’s number one priority and his number one life goal was to be a father. He was such a tremendous daddy and his main concern would be the welfare of his children,” added Janine, who outlined her intention to set up the William Dunlop Foundation.
“After William’s accident, the support that we received as a family… I don’t think people will fully understand how vital that help was at the time and how much I truly appreciate it.
“From that, I was thinking that as Ella and Willa’s mum, my job is to fix things but unfortunately I can’t fix this for them because they have lost their daddy.
“As tremendous as William was and the legacy that he left, they are missing out on a life with him and unfortunately that is the position that a lot of children find themselves in, but they maybe don’t have the motorcycle community to support them,” she said.
“So hence the William Dunlop Foundation idea was born and its main basis will be to support children who have suffered the bereavement of a parent. Hand in hand with that will come the support of a partner left behind when their life has essentially been ripped from below them.”
William’s mum Louise said her son was a ‘very special’ person who could be likened to his uncle Joey.
“William was so quiet and I think that was maybe why people took to William, maybe even more so than Michael even,” said Louise.
“They are two very different boys and William was very special, he was quite like his uncle Joey because he never said very much. Michael is quite like his dad – boisterous – but nonetheless we are proud of all our boys.
“I’m extremely proud of Janine with the way she has coped and the two little girls are beautiful – they are very like their daddy. I would like to thank everybody for this award.”
Paying tribute to the Dunlop family, Louise added that Michael would have their full support if he decides to race on this year.
“What can you say, you just have to keep going on. We’ve lost Robert and we’ve lost William but we never really saw them down about anything, they just kept on racing and it’s a credit to them and the strength of the whole Dunlop family,” she said.
“Robert’s mum and dad are tremendous people, really truly special, and Michael, whatever his decision is to race on, we will have to be behind him and he will probably make that decision very shortly.”