‘He gave hope to others’ – tributes paid to Glenavon director Noel Hayes after sudden death

An inspiring Glenavon FC director who was one of the longest-surviving kidney transplant patients in Northern Ireland gave hope to others...

An inspiring Glenavon FC director who was one of the longest-surviving kidney transplant patients in Northern Ireland gave hope to others, a friend has said.

oel Hayes had been a lifetime Glenavon supporter, the Lurgan football club said.

Mr Hayes, who was in his 70s, died suddenly at the weekend.

He had been involved in the club in a number of roles, including a youth-level coach and also as a steward. He was also responsible for a time for looking after the club’s ball boys.

But beyond football, Mr Hayes was well known for helping others cope with the trauma of organ transplants.

Last night the Northern Ireland Ambassador for Kidney Care UK – former Assembly member Jo-Anne Dobson – spoke fondly of the man she described as “a real gentleman”.

“Noel was one of the people we in the kidney family all looked up to,” she said.

“He had his transplant more than 30 years ago.

“What I loved was that he gave others – people who were perhaps facing a transplant operation – he gave them hope.

“Noel was so calm, so relaxed, so chilled, so matter-of-fact and unflustered.

“He was a calming influence.

“He would’ve done anything for anyone,” said Mrs Dobson, who donated a kidney to her son, Mark.

“When I became NI Ambassador for Kidney Care UK – just before I gave my son a kidney three years ago – one of the first events I did was at Glenavon FC with Noel.

“If ever there was an example in inspiring people to dig deep to support other patients, that was Noel. He was the embodiment of life with a new kidney.

“People don’t know how long they are going to get out of a kidney transplant, and Noel was someone that we put on a pedestal – a man who had had 30 years plus with his transplant.

“Noel gave hope to others on that journey – that they could be like him and have that precious gift for a long time.

“He wasn’t afraid to muck in, wasn’t afraid to talk to anyone who was on a journey with kidney problems – he just had such a lovely calming way with him.

“He was a real gentleman.”

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer said it was a sad day for the club.

“Noel was a lifelong Glenavon supporter, and had been involved with the club for many, many years, initially on the youth development side, and latterly as a member of the board.

“He was a very highly respected figure both at the club and in the Lurgan area.

“It’s a very sad loss to the club and its board of directors.” Mr Hayes joined Glenavon’s board of directors in 2016 and had recently been appointed as the club’s first supporter and staff welfare officer.

“It was a position he had long championed that the club should have in order to keep fans and players alike in touch with the club in their hour of need,” Glenavon said in a statement.

“The thoughts and prayers of everyone connected to the club are with Noel’s family.”

Funeral arrangements have not yet been released.

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Newsrust: ‘He gave hope to others’ – tributes paid to Glenavon director Noel Hayes after sudden death
‘He gave hope to others’ – tributes paid to Glenavon director Noel Hayes after sudden death
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