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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Orlaith Clinton

Belfast community raise incredible amount for NI Hospice in memory of much-loved family man

The family of a popular Belfast man have presented a cheque for more than £12,000 to the NI Hospice in his memory.

Tommy Kavanagh, who lived in the West of the city, but hailed from Derry, died on February 8, 2023, after a brave cancer battle. In the weeks following his death, Tommy's family, friends and community came together to give back to those who helped them during his illness.

Remembered fondly for his positive outlook, fun-loving spirit, and passion for family-life, Tommy's legacy continues through his wife Karen, and three boys Niall, Conor and Leo.

Read more: Belfast community's fundraising efforts after death of young dad

Speaking to Belfast Live, Karen said they have been blown away by the support they have received from the NI Hospice since Tommy's cancer diagnosis.

"Tommy was such a fun guy, and we met around 13 or 14 years ago," she said.

"We both worked in Bank of Ireland and hit it off and were married fairly quickly, after two years or so.

"He was great with my son Niall, just brilliant, and then we had the two boys and he was just the best daddy. He lived for the boys and really loved him family right up to the end. We were his number one.

"Tommy was so popular and had so many friends, who have been amazing since he has passed. They have all been so good.

"He had his down days, anybody would in his situation. But he kept his sense of humour right up to the very end."

Tommy was first diagnosed with cancer in December 2021 and at that point, the outlook wasn't good.

Once he started treatment, Karen says he had a brilliant year. The family went on holidays, and made more memories with the boys.

"It was great until October last year and that is when he started to go downhill again," Karen added.

"He done a week in the NI Hospice in January which was really good because he was in hospital for three weeks at Christmas and hated every second of it.

"The NI Hospice was a completely different set-up and a home form home for him and for us."

Lauren Doherty, from NI Hospice told Belfast Live that because of the Kavanagh family, and other families across Northern Ireland, they are able to provide the care they are widely known for.

"People who are very ill and maybe need some help maintaining their pain can come into the Hospice and have all of that," she said.

"They can have that resolved and they are looked after by a multi-disciplinary team of nurses, doctors and consultants - everybody is there to make sure that the patient is looked after in whatever way they need.

"We have an entire holistic approach, and it is not just for the patient though, it is for the families too."

Michael Nugent, Community Fundraiser at NI Hospice, said: "We’re absolutely delighted and extremely humbled to have received this incredible donation of £12,000 from the Kavanagh family. Northern Ireland Hospice and Children’s Hospice cares for over 4,000 local people every year and is a lifeline for many families who depend on our care.

"We couldn't continue to provide this highly specialised care without the support and generosity of our local community, and unique events such as these. This incredible donation will make a significant impact on the lives of those we care for and will help us to continue providing outstanding care and support to patients and their families."

The Kavanagh family, and their extended family and friends, set a target of £3,000 initially - an amount they knew they'd reach. But they never thought that through the generosity of others, that they'd today be looking at an amount over £12,000.

Through a fun-run organised by Fiona Maguire's Fighting Fit running club and an evening of raffles and celebrations at The Hunting Lodge on the Stewartstown Road, the community came together to show Karen, and her boys, that they'll always be there for them.

Manager of the Hunting Lodge, Bar & Restaurant, where Tommy worked for a short period, Jim McIlhatton said it is without hesitation, that they will continue to support Tommy's young family.

"Tommy was a great guy, always very chatty," Jim said.

"He was willing to work, and the type of man who you wanted to work for you, because he had the gift of the gab. Even though he was only with us for a few months, we developed a great bond.

"When he was sick, he would keep us all in the know, with how he was, and what was happening. The whole team bonded with him, and we all kept in touch with Karen and the boys. We told Tommy that his job was always safe, and that we would do whatever needed to be done to help them."

Karen continued: "Our limit on the Just Giving Page was £3,000 and I knew that it would get a wee bit more than that.

"But no way did I think that we would get anywhere near the amount we did get. We have such amazing family and friends and everybody contributed.

"Everybody played their part. Not even just with donations, but with ballot prizes, organisation for the night, everything. It was just such an amazing day.

"Tommy would be absolutely mortified to think that we were doing all of this and that we had raised all of this money. He'd be like 'what are you doing?' but he would be really proud of us. Really proud."

For more information on the NI Hospice, and how to donate, please click here.

Video by Belfast Live Videographer Harry Bateman.

For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here. To sign up to our FREE newsletters, see here.

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