“Completely overwhelmed” by the support of the local community, the wife of the late Barry McQuaid says she hopes he’d be “very proud” of the £84,970 raised in his memory.

‘A Night for Barry’ drew huge crowds to the Delaney Suite of Mahon’s Hotel, Irvinestown on Saturday night with the aim to raise money in memory of Mr. McQuaid from Dromore, who tragically died following a workplace accident early last year.

“We knew it would be well supported but we didn’t think we’d get the crowd that came,” said Edel McQuaid, Mr. McQuaid’s wife, who believes there was around 700/800 people at the event but “there could have been more”. “It was mostly people that Barry knew or worked with in some way or came across at some point so we just wanted to do something in his name that people would talk about and remember. Not to just remember Barry by what happened but because of something positive as well,” Mrs. McQuaid explained.

On the night, it was announced that a total of £84,970 was raised, with the funds to be split between Air Ambulance Northern Ireland who attended to Mr. McQuaid following his accident and Tummery Primary School, Dromore where two of Mr. McQuaid’s children go to school.

“The figure we have at the minute is £84,970 but there is still money to be added to that,” said Mrs. McQuaid, adding: “We were just completely overwhelmed by the amount raised. We kind of had a figure in mind but it far exceeded our expectations. I hope Barry would be very proud of it.”

When asked by this newspaper what inspired the fundraising event, Mrs. McQuaid said: “People had suggested to us at the start about doing something, people wanted to donate money in Barry’s name but then when we thought about it I wanted to do just a one-off event because that probably suited Barry’s personality more.”

Talking of the support she has received from Mr. McQuaid’s work colleagues and friends following his death, Mrs. McQuaid commented that they have “been so good”. She continued: “No matter what I would ask of them, they do it and even for this night they couldn’t have done enough. On the night they were coming up asking if there was anything that needed done and was everything okay.”

Tyrone Irish folk/rock band The Whistlin’ Donkeys gave an upbeat performance on the night which was followed by a lively auction.

“I wanted an auction because Barry loved going to the mart, that was his thing, every Wednesday evening and it started off that I wanted to auction a few cows and then it kind of escalated to include other stuff, but we wanted to keep it as much about stuff that Barry would have liked or enjoyed as well,” shared Mrs. McQuaid.

Led by auctioneer Cathal McManus, a number of lots went for substantial amounts of money including six Suffolk ewe lambs selling for £6,000, a Simmental Heifer for £3,000, a designer his and hers sunglasses set for £1,050 and a group lot of a Christmas Turkey, Christmas Tree and six bottles of wine going for over £2,500. Commenting on the money raised from the auction alone, Mrs. McQuaid said: “We had about half of that in our head, we did not think it would have gone as mad as it did.”

The event was compered by Mr. McQuaid’s close friend Niall Warnock. Mrs. McQuaid and Mr. McQuaid’s father Noel McQuaid also gave speeches on the night. Commenting on the success of ‘A Night for Barry’, Mrs. McQuaid said: “It went really well. At the start of the night we were nervous because we are not public speakers but it was okay. We wanted the children to be involved so they had their own wee job as well.” She continued: “When I was up on stage, I didn’t say it but I was thinking that Barry just would have loved it, I suppose when everybody has their families you don’t get out as often anymore but to have all our friends and family and everybody he knew under the one roof, he just would’ve loved it.”

“It definitely wasn’t just me organising the night, it was everybody, Barry’s parents, Katrina Henderson and Kate Quinn who work in the office and all the men. It was a big team effort, it was down to everyone, not just one single person. We are so thankful and grateful to all the people who came out and made an effort to be there and anybody that contributed in any way at all,” she added.