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Sporting stars set to open Stephen’s Green

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Sporting stars set to open Stephen’s Green thumbnailSports fan, Stephen McElroy died suddenly two years ago and a sports pitch in his memory will be opened by rugby legend, Rory Best this weekend.

A SPORTS pitch in memory of 11-year-old Stephen McElroy will be officially opened this Saturday (2 September).

The creation of the new pitch in Dechomet is the result of tireless fundraising by the Stephen McElroy Appreciation and Remembrance Team known as SMART (NI) and major public support for the cause and the McElroy family.

The pitch will open less than two years since the establishment of the organisation and the concept of the idea.

SMART (NI) was established by the McElroy family following Stephen's sudden death in late March 2015. An avid sports fan, he had a particular love for gaelic, soccer and rugby.

Given Stephen's love of sport, the charity decided to fundraise to build the pitch which will be named Stephen's Green beside his primary school, St Mary's in Dechomet which had very limited sports facilities at the time of his passing.

Stephen's Green, named in memory of Stephen, will be officially opened on Saturday between 1pm and 4.30pm by Ulster hooker and Ireland captain, Rory Best.

Rory will be joined on the day by his brother Simon, a former Ulster and Ireland rugby player, as well as by GAA stars Liam Doyle and Conor Lavery.

Not only will attendees on the day be treated to a variety of exciting appearances by sports stars but there will also be plenty of other entertainment to keep everyone busy.

Stephen's parents, Paul and Pattie, and wider family are inviting everyone to pop along on the day where they can check out a performance and parade by Mayobridge Band, check out (and/or partake) in the children's gaelic and soccer games throughout the afternoon, enjoy a bagpipe session from James Knox and friends or witness the stars show off their playing skills during the sports personalities' kick-about.


There will be plenty of refreshments available throughout the day as well as other various familyfriendly fun.

Speaking ahead of the opening of Stephen's Green, the McElroy family said: "We are so proud to have completed the new pitch in Stephen's memory and are pleased to say that now it is finished, St Mary's PS will be using Stephen's Green on a daily basis and we hope that the school has many, many years of enjoyment and fun with this new facility.

"As well as this we would like to invite other community groups to feel welcome to use the facility by contacting SMART (NI) directly at any time.

"We are so excited to be able to welcome such huge names from the sporting world to the opening of Stephen's Green and we know that Stephen in particular would have been so proud to see those, for whom he had so much admiration, coming to his local area.

"We are overwhelmed with the support we have received, not just with the official opening but with every fundraiser we have hosted to date and we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped in any way to make our dream a reality.

"In particular we would like to thank Paul Greeran for kindly granting us permission to use his field in the first place." Following the completion of the pitch the charity says it will continue to fundraise for sporting equipment for Stephen's Green as well as for Cruse Bereavement Care, which provides free counselling and support to families who have suffered a loss, and local mental health organisations.

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