Newry child meets world’s biggest tennis stars
Imagine being given the chance to meet some of the biggest names in tennis, at one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar.
That is exactly what happened to Eilish Larkin of Newry, who was invited to take part in the 2013 Barclays ATP World Tour as a mascot.
Six-year-old Eilish was one of 35 children who met some of the world’s biggest tennis stars, including Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, at the prestigious event held at London’s O2 arena, after being nominated by members of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The Association was invited to put names forward for the honour, following the death of Brad Drewett, a former player, executive chairman and president of the ATP World Tour who died from motor neurone disease (MND) in May, aged 54. The event trophy was also renamed in his honour.
Each of the children were chosen to be a special MND Association mascot because their families had been affected by MND.
Eilish’s mother, Claire said, “Eilish’s dad, Eoin, was diagnosed with MND in August 2010 when Eilish was just three.
“She is the youngest of our three children and they are all very aware of Eoin’s needs and they all give him the very best of attention and care, as he needs a lot of help with everyday tasks that we all take for granted.
“We were just delighted to hear she had been chosen and without delay booked hotel, flights and trains. We managed to fit in a show and of course no child could be in London and not visit Hamley’s.
“Eilish had a fantastic time from the minute we left to the minute we came home. It was all go, but she took it all in her stride and I think part of this comes from coping so well with her Dad.”
Chris James, Director of External Affairs from the MND Association said, “It was great awareness for the Association on so many levels; from the thousands who saw our special MND mascots at the tournament to the media coverage, including the finals being screened live on BBC3.
“Fundamentally though, it was great to be able to give something back to the families involved – MND is such a devastating disease with a huge impact on everyone including the children.”
A spokesperson for the Barclays 2013 ATP World Tour added, “We wanted to honour ATP executive chairman and president, Brad Drewett, at the event this year and felt it was appropriate to donate our mascot places to the Motor Neurone Disease Association, who have provided them to families who have been affected by the disease.
“Each day the mascots arrived with excitement and they have been true professionals. We hope it is something they and their families will remember; while also helping to honour Brad and, hopefully, raising the profile of the Motor Neurone Disease Association and their fight against this dreadful disease.”
To find out more about the MND Association visit www.mndassociation.org
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