Country music stars are lining up to help a Dromara man celebrate an extra-special anniversary at the end of this month.
Eleven years ago - in June 2005 - Brian McGrillen received a kidney transplant at Belfast City Hospital, an operation which transformed his life.
Now Brian, a father of three daughters,believes it is “payback time” and to show his immense gratitude is organising a country and western concert in the village in support of the Northern Ireland Kidney Research Fund. Local favourite Conor McKay - the Singing Brickie - and his wife Ursula will be among the stars taking to the stage of St Michael’s Hall, Finnis, Dromara, on Saturday April 30 for what promises to be a night to remember.
Other big names on the bill include Country Harmony, Boxcar Brian, Tony Kerr and Lisa McCrory with compere Sean Wallace overseeing proceedings.
Brian, who prematurely lost his father Gerald and uncle Patsy to kidney disease, both in their 30s, feels he was “unbelievably lucky” to have been given back his life with the transplant.
“I was five years on dialysis and there is no doubt about it the transplant changed my life,” he explained. “I never forget the donor and their family. I don’t know who my donor was but I think of that person every day and pray for his or her family.
Before his life-saving operation his quality of life was exceptionally poor. However, since then his general health has dramatically improved to such an extent that he is now back playing on a regular basis at Spa Golf Club and has taken on the demanding role as chairman of Dromara Classic and Vintage Vehicle Club.
A retired woodwork teacher, Brian is appealing for more people to carry Organ Donor cards and said it is important the public are aware of the difference such generosity of spirit can create.
Whilie he is full of praise for the medical, surgical and ancillary staff at Belfast City Hospital and his local Medical Centre in Dromara for giving him back his life, Brian said the constant support and dedication of his wife Mary and their family was something he will never forget.
Tickets for the April 30 concert are available from a number of outlets including Brian (07759672584), Mary McCann (97561539), Anne’s Hair Studio or Montgomery’s Mace Shop, Dromara.
“The people of the Dromara area are very generous when it comes to things like this concert and I’m confident we’ll get a good turnout on April 30 - the more money we can raise the more we can donate to Kidney Research.