The Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust (NICLT) has launched what it hopes will be the first of many annual ‘Wee Joan’s Dog Walk’ events to raise funds for its charity.
The initiative is the inspiration of Willie Gregg, the heavily decorated philanthropic bartender from the well-loved Harbour Bar in Portrush.
The event, in memory of Willie’s late mother Joan who passed away this year, will take place on Sunday 19 September from 2pm to raise money for the charity, which has brought over 1200 ill and vulnerable NI children to Lapland over the past 12 years.
The event registration and starting point will be at the RNLI Portrush Lifeboat Station on Kerr Street at Portrush Harbour. Dog walkers and their adored pooches will then head over to Ramore Head, along Lansdowne and on to The Arcadia and back again!
Mr Gregg, who has been instrumental in the creation of the event, decided to organise this event to fulfil a promise to his late mother Joan who was an ardent dog lover.
The bartender, who has been awarded for his previous fundraising efforts including winning a prestigious Spirit of NI Award in 2017, said:
“I am thrilled to be able to finally host an event that was so close to my mother’s heart, an event that will give back to those who need it most.
“My mother was very disappointed that we had to postpone our charity dog walk several times during Covid-19 but thankfully we now have a date for the dog walk - Sunday 19th September - and it’s going to be in her honour. I know she will be keeping an eye on her dog walk from above!”
Willie added: “I would urge anyone with a dog to sign up and register in advance for this special event. All proceeds raised will go to the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust. This wonderful charity gives terminally ill, life limited and deserving children from across Northern Ireland a truly magical day, creating excitement and memories which they and their families will cherish forever.”
He continued: “I am really looking forward to this being the first of what will be an annual event. Obviously, this year due to Covid, restrictions will be put in place including social distancing guidance, however we plan to build on this each year and run dog competitions and many more exciting fun initiatives to make this a real experience.”
Willie was also recently invited to join the North Coast Fundraising Committee for the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust.
Colin Barkley, Chair of the Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days To Remember Trust, said:
“We are delighted that Willie has come on board and joins us in our aim to give thousands more vulnerable NI children a trip of a lifetime.
“We know he will be a huge asset to the team with a strong and admirable background in fundraising over the years including raising close to £500,000 to date for children orphaned by the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand in 2004 via his Willie’s Orphan Fund as well as raising funds for cancer charities, guide dog organisations, Portrush Lifeboat, poppy appeals, airforce wings and earthquake appeals in Haiti and Indonesia.
“We look forward to seeing the turnout at Wee Joan’s Dog Walk in memory of Willie’s beloved late mother and urge everyone to come along for the fun.”
To find out more about Wee Joan’s Dog Walk, or to register your dog in advance of the walk, please click on the following link: https://www.niclt.org/wee-joans-dog-walk/
Registration is £10 per family group and £5 for one or more dogs. Participants will be asked to choose one of four half hour departure slots (2pm, 2.30pm, 3pm and 3.30pm) to help adhere to social distancing requirements.
Registration will also be available on the day, however event organisers would encourage as many as possible to register online in advance.
For anyone who can’t take part on the day, but would still like to show their support for Willie and Wee Joan, donations can be made via JustGiving at: www.justgiving.com/campaign/WeeJoansDogWalk
A professional photographer will be at the charity event to take photos of pooches and their humans as they arrive. Photographs will be uploaded for viewing online shortly after the event. Snappy Snaps, Coleraine, has kindly offered a £5 discount per dog (on proof of event participation) to contribute towards the cost of a photo print or product.
For further information on Northern Ireland Children to Lapland and Days to Remember Trust check out
https://www.niclt.org/ or Facebook @childrentolaplandtrust