BIG-HEARTED Billy McCrory flew home to Belfast yesterday afternoon after having spent a few days on the island with two families with children with cancer who his charity Shine A Light treated to a week's holiday in Cala D'Or as part of his Family Holiday Scheme.
It was an emotional few days for all involved.
Not only did McCrory use the trip to present the director of the Hotel Corfu and Skorpios complex, Antonio Ruiz, with a special crystal flame as a sign of recognition for the help he and the hotel have given the charity over the past three years, it was also Billy's birthday and the entertainment staff at the hotel organised a special surprise for him.
After presenting the flame to Ruiz, the entire hotel, families and guests included, sung Billy Happy Birthday. Sales and Contract Manager for Rosu Hotels, Suzanne Lyons, who helped Billy's charity add Majorca to its holiday scheme, said it was a very moving event, very special. Billy set up Shine A Light, a voluntary organsition focused on improving the quality of life for young children diagnosed with cancer, nearly 15 years ago and the holiday scheme has been running here for three.
He does however take children and their families all over the world on holiday, to theme parks, sporting events and concerts.
It's a big treat for them and we always try and give them what they wish for, he said yesterday.
It all started when I was in hospital myself recovering from a heart attack.
One day I passed the ward for children with cancer and it just broke my heart and I decided to try and help them, he added.
The charity has massive support in Northern Ireland, from the likes of the band Westlife to the RAF, and holds a host of fund raising events including two gala charity auctions every year.
Last year Majorcan resident and former world champion boxer Nigel Benn donated a signed pair of boxing gloves and copy of his autobiography. Along with a weekend in Majorca, they raised over 825 pounds and Benn is committed to helping raise funds here on the island if possible and a charity auction may be held at the Rey Jaime Hotel in Santa Ponsa next year.
Over the past three years, Billy has arranged for nearly 40 families with children suffering from cancer to come on holiday to Majorca and they always stay at the Hotel Corfu and Skorpios complex in Cala Egos.
The charity also receives great support from the low cost airline Jet2.
There are two families going home today and two more coming out tomorrow, it's an ongoing thing, he said.
It gives the children and their families a real lift. Some of the children are in remission and others are returning for further sessions of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
And we're helping children aged from 11 months to 22 - some we've been helping for eight years, he added.
We try to give the children and their parents a hand, sometimes it's very hard but our goal is to give the children and their parents a feeling that they are not alone.
Some of the families don't have much but they do have dreams and for many it's going on holiday and going together.
We try to make that dream come true, Billy added.
If anybody wishes to get involved with helping organise a charity auction on the island or donate items, visit shinealightni.com