Teenager Darren McClelland, an avid motorbike enthusiast, was given the surprise of a lifetime when he got to attend the Irish Motorbike Awards in January at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Belfast.
Darren, who benefits from Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice services, said: “The last thing I expected to be doing in January was making an appointment with my barber and picking a new shirt!
But that’s what happened at the start of an amazing week when Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice made it possible for me to attend the Irish Motorbike Awards in Belfast.
Anyone who knows me, knows of my two passions, motorbike sport and Liverpool Football Club, but let’s not dwell on the latter at this time!
I was so excited the night before the event – it was like Christmas Eve all over again. I woke early for my haircut and got suited and booted. My whole family circle knew it was a special day, so my mum and I paid a visit to my grandmother for photos before we took to the road from my home in Derry to Belfast - I just couldn’t wait to get there!
Finally, the time arrived and we were on a red carpet in the hotel and then between two amazing bikes. I thought I was there to get my picture taken but then Jonathan Rea and Michael Laverty turned up to talk to me. I was stunned. It was an amazing few minutes just to have both superstars giving me their undivided attention.
The entire evening was something special – just being there to see the stars win their awards and to also speak with John and Eugene Laverty and Glenn Irwin get pictures with them.
Just when I thought the night couldn’t get any better, I was gifted a VIP pass to the North West 200 and a race jumper!
The journey home was one of the shortest ever between Belfast and Derry – there just wasn’t enough time to talk about the evening with my mum and sister".