‘He was a character’: Co Tyrone family hosting ‘event he would’ve loved’ in memory of dad

A family from Co Tyrone are hosting an event their dad would’ve loved as a way to remember him and raise funds for charity.

Connie Campbell passed away on December 15, 2020 after a few weeks of a short illness. On the night he died, there was an ambulance delay.

The following morning, the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance made it to the scene, however, it was too late.

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Describing her dad as a “real character”, Michelle Campbell said there was nothing more he loved than playing bowling. Growing up, Michelle and one of her brothers began to play bowls too, alongside their mum and dad.

Now, the family are hosting a bowling tournament in the Ardboe man’s memory.

“Bowling was his life. It’s great we’re able to put on something he would have loved to go to,” Michelle told Belfast Live.

“He was a real character, that’s one thing for sure. We all played bowls growing up; my mummy, daddy, myself and one of my brothers.

“He played bowls for over 30 years and travelled the length and breadth of Ireland. He went to watch Ireland, and watched and supported my brother and uncle when they played in the World Bowls in 2000 in the Isle of Man.

“He always ran a tournament himself for our bowling club, St Brigids in Brockagh, so he was well-known for that, and for having a wee pint at the table when you went to pay in – that was him.

“Unfortunately in December 2020, a few weeks before it he took sick. We didn’t know what was wrong with him, then we had an ambulance delay that night.

“When it arrived the next morning, it was too late. The air ambulance had arrived as well as they were in the vicinity – so I thought that’s why we would run this tournament to raise money for them.

“There’s so much publicity for the air ambulance needing the money, so we’re doing what we can to help.”

The Campbell family when they won the South Tyrone National Rinks
The Campbell family when they won the South Tyrone National Rinks
(Image: Submitted)

As Connie passed away during lockdown, the family weren’t able to have a wake for him, so are hoping the tournament can be a way for friends and family to gather together and remember him.

Michelle said: “We know he would be very proud. He ran tournaments every year, and went to that many himself, so he would be absolutely delighted with one in his memory.

“Due to Covid, we weren’t allowed the wake that he deserved, so we just thought we would do something for him and hopefully it’ll be a big success.

“He always had something smart and a joke to say. I’m sure we’ll hear plenty of stories about him when everyone comes along.”

The bowling tournament takes place from September 12 – 16 at The Hub in Ballinderry.

For anyone not able to make it, the family have set up a fundraiser for the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance in Connie’s memory. You can donate by clicking here.


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BelfastLive – Co Tyrone