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Rory McIlroy opens children’s cancer centre in the North

Rory McIlroy has opened a new support centre for children with cancer in the North amid vowing to see it replicated elsewhere in the country.

The Nike golfer returned home to Northern Ireland and the serene countryside surroundings of Newcastle, Co Down, where he unveiled Daisy Lodge – a therapeutic short-break centre to which his own charitable foundation has given £1m (€1.27m).

The world No.1 explained that this was only the beginning and added he had been touched by the things he learned during the visit.

“I definitely think it is a project I would like to see replicated and I think can be replicated,” he said. “I don’t think there is any reason why we should stop here.”

The first of its kind in the UK and Ireland, Daisy Lodge will provide all families affected by childhood cancer in Northern Ireland with a free therapeutic short break as well as also catering for youngsters from the Republic of Ireland. It includes families nursing their child with cancer, bereaved families and families where a parent has been diagnosed.

McIlroy said he felt touched to be able to get involved with the cause, which according to the Cancer Fund for Children, sees three out of 10 children die from the disease.

“It is about giving back and being able to help others,” he said.

McIlroy does not see a reason why his Rory Foundation – established last year to support charities with special meaning and purpose for him, could not expand further afield in the near future.

The Rory Foundation will be hosting the Irish Open at Royal Co Down Club in Newcastle next year, and he feels that will be the time to begin looking at making more of an impression.

The organisation, set up at the start of last year to raise funds for children’s charities across the world, will also become the tournament’s official charity, with the beneficiaries to be chosen by the Foundation in conjunction with the European Tour.

McIlroy is committed to enhancing an already world-class field by recruiting his fellow players from the European and US PGA tours, and he will also work closely alongside the Tour in developing the event’s commercial and sponsorship activities.

“It’s part of the plan to make the Daisy Lodge a focal point of the week,” he explained.

“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 added that it was raising awareness – and not money – which was the most important part of helping make the charity gain traction in wider circles.

“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.”

The lodge officially opened its doors today, although it has been working since February, hosting 151 families. It is able to cater for eight families at one time, or 500 a year.