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Family that does Christmas swim for leukaemia charity every year loses father to the disease

Eoin Burke died from leukaemia aged 49 just a few weeks ago.

“WE’RE FROM WATERFORD city. We’re a family of four. A few weeks ago, we were a family of five.”

The Burke family lost their father and husband, Eoin, on 3 December after a short illness with leukaemia.

He was only 49.

eoin burke Eoin Burke Source: De La Salle FC via Facebook

Eoin had successfully received a bone marrow transplant at St James’s Hospital in Dublin back in 2013.

Since then, his wife Deirdre, his daughter Rachel, and his sons Craig and Shane had done an annual Christmas swim in Tramore to raise money for the Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust.

Only three years after the transplant, they received the sad news in September 2016 that Eoin had leukaemia. “It took us all by surprise,” Craig said.

He may have passed away just a few weeks before the swim this year, but that didn’t stop family and friends braving the cold waters and doing it all again to raise money for the charity.

The work done for the charity was important both to Eoin, and his family, and they were keen to keep that legacy going.

IMG_0844 (L to R) Ryan Duke, Sean O'Keefe, Craig, Rachael and Shane Burke after the Christmas swim at Tramore earlier this week. Source: Deirdre Burke

Craig said: “We’re well aware that he won’t be coming back. We’re doing anything we can to connect with him.

“The work that Bone Marrow for Leukaemia Trust do is fantastic. We’ve always supported them.”

We raised quite a bit of money. We’ll definitely do it again. It meant a huge amount to us.

Doing such a physical activity to remember their dad and raise money for charity is a fitting tribute, they say, as Eoin lived and breathed sport.

“He loved sport, loved soccer,” Craig added. “We all support Waterford United for our sins. And he used to coach in the De La Salle in Waterford, too. We’re getting involved in that now as well.”

Such was his contribution to De La Salle FC, that they posted a moving tribute to Eoin on their Facebook page.

They said: “It was with heavy hearts and sad spirits that we received the news that Eoin today lost his battle with illness which first and foremost took him from a loving and close family leaving a devastating void which we can only imagine.

De La Salle will continue as a club but with a massive void that Eoin’s passing has left. The greatest tribute we can pay to ‘Burkey’ is to reinforce the standard that he has set at all levels in the club and will strive to do so to the best of our abilities.

“Rest in peace friend.”

FAI Waterford followed suit with a tribute to the “fantastic job” Eoin had done. They said: “This is an extremely sad loss for our Waterford football community once again.”

On Christmas day, Tramore beach was packed with people swimming for numerous worthy causes and Craig said that both he and the rest of the family would become more involved in raising money for cancer charities.

“It means a huge amount to us personally. We also do work for the Solas Cancer Support Centre. We will all get involved. Mam is very much supportive of it.”

Read: Bowie, Prince and Cohen: A year to remember musical genius

Read: The stories people are sharing about George Michael’s good deeds

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Sean Murray

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