Family of accident victim raise £2,200 for Red Cross

Pamela Laughlin, Mayor Victor Robinson who picked the winning ballots, Derek Leyland and Charlotte King of the British Red Cross.
Pamela Laughlin, Mayor Victor Robinson who picked the winning ballots, Derek Leyland and Charlotte King of the British Red Cross.

The family of a man who died in a tragic landfill accident have praised the local community’s “amazing generosity” after raising more than £2,000.

Derek Leyland, whose son David lost his life at the Biffa Waste site in Mallusk, organised a raffle to generate funds for the Red Cross.

The charity supported the Ballyclare family during the traumatic search for the 23-year-old’s body in 2008.

His remains were found buried under hundreds of tonnes of rubbish.

The Red Cross was also involved in assisting the Spence family who lost three loved ones in a slurry pit accident in Co Down at the weekend.

Mr Leyland said he was overwhelmed by the total raised and the support of the public.

An impressive sum of £2,200 was generated ahead of the draw at Mossley Mill on Friday.

Around 1,500 ballots were sold for £1 each and a quiz night at The Bureau bar last Thursday raised £500.

Mr Leyland said: “The actual total I was hoping to raise was to double the last collection of £524.

“I was aiming to raise £1,000 and to get that amount was phenomenal. I’m absolutely delighted.

“But I’m also quite drained at the moment as when I was putting up the posters in memory of David I just thought, ‘that’s my son’ and it still really hurts.”

Mr Leyland said he wished to thank everyone who put up flyers and posters publicising the raffle, including the staff of the Bureau who topped up the total of the quiz night fundraiser to £500.

He also thanked Antrim Printers for printing the posters and leaflets for free.

Prizes included an overnight stay and full Irish breakfast at Galgorm Hotel & Spa; a meal for two with wine and overnight stay at the Templeton Hotel; a voucher for a meal at The Bureau bar and restaurant in Jordanstown, and a go-karting experience with Need 4 Speed in Doagh.

The family also contributed an X Box games console in memory of David, who was a keen computer games fan.

The funds will boost the Red Cross’s Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS).

Red Cross FESS volunteers attend the scene of serious house fires, flooding, and search and rescue operations.

They turn up in a specially-adapted camper van giving people somewhere warm and dry to shelter as well as emotional support.

Mr Leyland added: “The van was used at the weekend for the Spence family and in other circumstances.

“It’s a phenomenal service and I’m proud to raise something for them.”

Speaking before the draw, Mr Leyland said: “Before David died I didn’t know anything about the Red Cross’s work here at home.

“The time when we were looking for David was the worst 36 hours of our lives.

“We were outside at night and we were distressed and freezing cold. It was such a relief to see the Red Cross van in the car park offering support and friendship.

“They gave us blankets, a soft seat and endless tea and coffee as well as tending to the medical needs of some members of the family.

“We want to show our gratitude by raising as much as possible to help other people who might need this service.”

Mr Leyland has also fought a hard campaign to get more answers into the circumstances of the death of his married son.