Future golf star Tom McKibbin unveiled as new NI Children's Hospice ambassador
A TEENAGE golf sensation who has played alongside Rory McIlroy has been unveiled as an ambassador for the Northern Ireland Children's Hospice.
Tipped as a future star, Tom McKibbin (13) from Newtownabbey has been making his name in the sport since the tender age of nine.
Just days after taking part in a pro-am event with McIlroy ahead of the Irish Open, the second-year pupil at Belfast Royal Academy yesterday spoke of his "honour" to be working with the hospice.
The teenager, who won the World Junior Championships last year as well as this year's Junior Honda Classic in Florida, said he was excited about his new role.
"I would pass Northern Ireland Children's Hospice on the way to school and often would find myself wondering what happens in the building and about the people who would use it," he said.
"It was only when I got an opportunity to visit did I realise that the reality of the children's hospice was far from what I imagined. It's a really fun place, like a home from home, and I found it very welcoming.
"I met kids my age and we had lots in common - we had pizza and talked about video games.
"To be invited to become an official ambassador to Northern Ireland Children's Hospice is a real honour - it's a special honour for my family too.
"I have a relationship with the children's hospice now and I'm excited about raising awareness of this amazing organisation and the amazing work it provides for children with life-limiting conditions."
The schoolboy, who watched as McIlroy lift the Irish Open trophy in Co Kildare on Sunday, said he was inspired by the Holywood golfer.
"I was talking to him down at the Irish Open when he won and it's just fantastic to see him win and great to be down there," he said.
"I would love to be like him and I feel that if I keep working hard, I should. He's really good and nice and has given me advice."
NI Hospice chairman Billy Webb said yesterday: "It's not every day a blossoming teenager is asked to become an ambassador of an organisation but in Tom we saw a local face who people already admire and look up to".