Rory McIlroy has opened a new support centre for children with cancer and vowed to see it replicated elsewhere.
The world’s number one golfer returned to Northern Ireland and the picturesque surroundings of Newcastle, Co Down, to unveil Daisy Lodge — a therapeutic short-break centre to which his charitable foundation has given £1m (€1.27m).
The four-time major winner said this was only the beginning, adding that he had been touched by what he learned during his visit.
“I definitely think it is a project I would like to see replicated and I think can be replicated. I don’t think there is any reason why we should stop here,” he said.
Daisy Lodge is the first centre of its kind in the UK and Ireland and will provide families affected by cancer with a free therapeutic short break.
This includes families nursing a child with cancer, the bereaved, and families where a parent has been diagnosed.
Three out of 10 children with cancer die from the disease, according to the Cancer Fund for Children, which runs the centre nestled against the Mourne Mountains.
He said he did not see any reason why his Rory Foundation — established last year to support charities with special meaning and purpose for him — could not expand and go further afield.
He said the cancer charity set very high goals and he would be there to support it all the way.
The Irish Open is being held at the Royal County Down club in Newcastle next year, hosted by the Rory Foundation.
The organisation will also become the tournament’s official charity, with the beneficiaries to be chosen by the foundation in conjunction with the European Tour. As the tournament host, McIlroy is committed to enhancing an already world-class field by recruiting his fellow players from the European and US PGA tours.
He will also work closely alongside the tour in developing the event’s commercial and sponsorship activities.
McIlroy said: “It’s part of the plan to make the Daisy Lodge a focal point of the week.
“It would be a real shame not to use this place in some shape or form. I think you will see a lot more of this place, definitely during that week. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the foundation to raise money for people that really need it and I am really looking forward to it.
“There is a lot of exciting plans already and come May next year it will be a really exciting week.
“We can use the Daisy Lodge to spread the awareness and spread the good word about what the guys are doing here.”
McIlroy said money was the easy part — raising awareness was more important. “I can financially support whatever needs to be done but it is easy, it’s easy just to give money here, that is not the important thing here — it is about your time and the effort you put into it, that is the important thing,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved