Ireland’s leading comedy duo, Grimes and McKee, will co-host the Oliver Turkington Memorial Dinner at Coleraine Academical Institution this autumn, it has been announced.
The charity event is being organised to mark 25 years since “Inst” became the Irish first school to play rugby in Japan, and to celebrate the life of Oliver Turkington, a much-loved member of the squad, who sadly died in 2007.
British and Irish Lions legend Willie John McBride will be principal speaker at the gathering which will take place on Saturday 13 September, with tickets priced at £45.
Proceeds will be divided equally between Cancer Research UK and rugby development at CAI. The dress code is “lounge suit, top button open.”
Alan McKee, an Old Boy of the school who played in the 1988 Schools’ Cup Final, said he and comedy partner Conor Grimes were delighted to be involved.
“Running out at Ravenhill on St Patrick’s Day to represent my school was one of the proudest moments of my life,” said Alan, who played at tight-head prop in the showpiece of Ulster schools’ rugby 26 years ago.
“I was therefore honoured to be asked to play a part in this very special event and had no hesitation in saying yes. Conor wasn’t allowed to have an opinion but, if he had one, he would have said yes too.
“Several members of the Japan tour squad were team mates of mine in 1988 and it will be terrific to see them again. I know that a number of others from my year will also be making the effort to come along to support two great causes and remember Oliver, who will forever be held in very high regard by all who knew him.
“I can guarantee a night to remember for everyone, including Conor if he doesn’t get lost on the way. Sadly, he’s not from Coleraine but secretly wishes he was. Probably.”
Barry White, who is organising the event in partnership with current CAI 1st XV Head Coach and fellow Japan tour team mate Richard Beggs, said he was thrilled that Grimes and McKee had answered the call to arms.
“I well remember Alan regularly trampling over me in training matches as the 1988 team marched their way to the Schools’ Cup Final,” said Barry.
“This is my form of revenge by inviting him to make a mouth of himself in front of many of his closest friends and family members.
“Alongside the Hughes Insurance TV adverts which I know have led to countless tea-time choking incidents across the Province, Alan and Conor are probably best known for their hugely successful play ‘The History of the Troubles...Accordin’ to my Da.’
“Alan kindly invited me to watch a performance in London some years ago and it only cost me the price of a pint afterwards.
“If he and Conor do a good job in September, I might buy them one each although technically it is Alan’s round.”
Tickets for the Oliver Turkington are now available in person from the school office, by calling Diane Armstrong on Tel: 028 7034 4331 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org