Warrenpoint couple win UK-wide award

December 9, 2013

An inspirational couple from Warrenpoint, County Down, have won an award for the brave way in which they have used their personal experiences of brain injury to help others similarly affected.

Larry and Carmel Lynch have beaten-off competition from across the UK to jointly scoop the Campaigner of the Year title in the Headway Annual Awards. The national awards programme, run by UK-wide charity Headway – the brain injury association, celebrates the outstanding achievements and contributions of people with brain injuries and those working to support them.

The couple were presented with their award by double Olympic gold medallist James Cracknell, who is Vice President of the charity, at a glittering ceremony held at London’s Dorchester Hotel on Friday 6 December.

In October 2011, Larry and Carmel faced every parent’s nightmare. Their son, Laurence – also known among his friends as Larry – had been out with friends at a charity night in a local hotel. The 25 year old had even had his legs waxed in order to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association.

On his way home, Laurence fell off a four-foot wall and fell, hitting his head. He was rushed to hospital but sadly died a week later.

A few months after his passing, his family and friends decided to do something positive in his memory. Larry and Carmel had been informed that had Laurence survived, he would most likely have been left with a brain injury and would have required the help of Headway to help him rebuild his life.

Following a visit to Headway Newry, the couple were impressed and decided that this was the charity they wanted to support in their son’s name. The Larry Lynch Fundraising Appeal was subsequently launched and thus begun a seven month programme of raising funds for and awareness of the local charity.

A bag pack at the local Sainsbury’s supermarket was followed by a sponsored walk or run through Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor. Next up was a sponsored head and beard shave, another bag pack event, and then the big finale – a fundraising dinner dance complete with a charity auction.

The auction items donated by generous local businesses and supporters included signed Liverpool and Manchester United football shirts, a pair of goalkeeping gloves signed by Northern Ireland legend Pat Jennings, and a golf club signed by Graeme McDowell, one of the world’s best golfers.

In June 2013, Larry and Carmel, along with their friends and family, came to a Headway Newry meeting to present the charity with a cheque for an astonishing £23,413.

“The way that Larry and Carmel have reacted to the unimaginable tragedy of losing their son is truly inspirational,” said Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway.

“Together with family members and friends, they have done an incredible amount in Laurence’s name. The money they have raised will provide a vital boost to local services, but equally important is the fact that so many more people in the region are now aware that Headway is here to help people affected by brain injury.”