JT McNamara, the Limerick jockey who died tragically in July from injuries sustained in a fall, was the posthumous recipient of the biennial Shannon Group Media Merit award at the Mid-West Press Ball at the weekend.
Presented by special guest Finance Minister and Shannon Group Chairman Rose Hynes to the late jockey’s wife Caroline, the late father of three was chosen for the award for the heroism he showed in battling injuries following his horrific fall at Cheltenham three years ago.
Receiving the award at the charity ball at the Limerick Strand Hotel, the wife of the Croom, Co. Limerick jockey said that, thanks to the support and giving of many, everything that could be done was done for her late husband.
“We as a family are evidence of the incredible work that charities do. My mother and I – I say my mother as she was my and John’s backbone of support – can put our hands on our heart and say that we did everything we could for John, to keep him at home and give him some quality of life. We have no regrets.
“We were able to do this because of the fund raising and support that we received form the public and we will always be humbled and grateful for that. I just hope that the public will continue to give to charities so that others like us can get the type of support we did. Quite simply, John would never have been able to return home and live out his life with us, his family, were it not for the support of others.”
Presenting the award, Minister Noonan said that the jockey was an inspiration to all whose lives are thrown into turmoil. “It’s fair to say that JT just over three years ago faced one of the worst scenarios that anyone can face. Yet, hearing his wife Caroline talking about how the injury brought him and his children closer over the last few years and the special time they had despite his difficulties, you get a great insight into the man.
“I know Caroline’s mother from my time growing up in Loughill and they are great people and that certainly shone out in Caroline in the way she dealt with JT’s accident and passing. Some people get dealt dreadful hands in life and it takes courage to play them as well as JT McNamara did. It’s a tragedy that we are not here celebrating his success as a jockey but for all his did in his career and after his career, it’s fitting that he gets this award. I know Carloine.”
Said Rose Hynes, Chairman of award sponsors Shannon Group: “It is a great honour for Shannon Group to be associated with this award for JT. Everyone was struck by the massive sense of loss around JT’s death. Caroline and children Dylan, Harry and Olivia have shown remarkable strength and courage in the most difficult of times. ”
Press Ball Chairman Ron Kirwan said: “When we sat down to decide the recipient of the award, once JT’s name was mentioned, the decision was made. The news of JT’s passing ripped through the heart of the region, the country and the entire horse racing world. For a young man to die doing what he loved and for his livelihood is tragic to say the very least.
“Since we asked Caroline to receive this award, our appreciation for her own bravery has deepened and it’s an award foremost for JT and the way he dealt with his horrific injuries but also for the great inspiration she showed as a wife and mother.”
The Press Ball, which was first held in 1951, has raised hundreds of thousands of euro for charities and voluntary bodies across the Mid-West region. This year’s event, which was held at the Strand Hotel, will see funds principally go to local children’s charities and services. The event also honoured two long-serving members of regional media – Limerick Live95FM’s Len Dineen, who has been working in radio locally since the 1970s, and the Clare Champion’s Tony Mulvey, who has worked with the newspaper for all of 58 years.