Northern Ireland news

Michaela Foundation to make way for new initiative to `create tangible and permanent memory' of Co Tyrone woman's spirit

The Michaela Foundation was founded b 2011 `to commemorate the values that Michaela held dear in her life'

THE Michaela Foundation is to close and be replaced with a new initiative to "create a tangible and permanent memory" of the Co Tyrone woman's spirit.

John McAreavey, who chaired the foundation, said the decision has been taken to wind up the charity "after 10 years of this incredible work".

Michaela McAreavey, daughter of former Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte, was killed while honeymooning with John in Mauritius in January 2011.

The foundation was set up later that year and has run a girls' summer camp and other initiatives for young people.

Michael (27) was found strangled in the bath of her hotel suite after returning alone to her hotel room.

Two hotel workers charged with the murder were acquitted and in December, the country's director of public prosecutions said after a three-month re-examination of the case no new evidence had been found for a new trial or retrial.

"When we began the Michaela Foundation back in 2011, we wanted to commemorate the values that Michaela held dear in her life," Mr McAreavey said in a statement.

"It was clear that the simple way in which Michaela lived her life resonated with many people. Michaela was fun, confident and had an enriching relationship with God. She led a 'Life Without Limits'.

"We envisaged building a foundation that could promote these values and give young people across Ireland a platform, a community, a belonging which celebrated their uniqueness and helped them grow in the spirit of Michaela.

"In 10 years, we achieved an enormous amount. We hosted just under 120 summer camps throughout every province in Ireland and worked with 10,000 young people, promoting our values and giving them a platform to shine.

"We hosted faith and wellbeing retreats in schools across Ulster, we hosted our Wings Awards, celebrating young people in their communities, and many, many other projects including launching a new video podcast in 2020.

"We set a Guinness World Record with our Marathon Match and even brought 20,000 people to Casement Park, Belfast on a cold November night back in 2012, quite the feat."

However, the former GAA player said the time has come "to bring a close to this wonderful chapter in our lives".

"The activities of Michaela Foundation will cease from this year and our focus will shift to a new initiative, one which we hope will create a tangible and permanent memory to Michaela's spirit and to the incredible spirit of Michaela Foundation.

"To the countless people who contributed and volunteered and who made these achievements possible, we will always be indebted to your generosity.

"We helped create something beautiful together which was borne from tragedy but blossomed into something so positive and impactful.

"It has been an honour for me personally to manage the four people who we employed during this time and on behalf of all the trustees, I wish to thank you for your efforts, talent, and attitude.

"The spirit of Michaela and Michaela Foundation will continue to live on, that I can be sure of."

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