Former pro footballer and ex Irish Guard Ricky Culbertson is on a mission to raise as much money as he can for Macmillan Cancer to honour the memory of his Mum Doreen.
Ricky will ‘brave the shave’ on December 3, the seventh anniversary of his Mum’s death from cancer.
The 36-year old Ballymena man has lived life to the full having been a professional footballer with Norwich, Swindon Town and L.A. Galaxy. He also played for Northern Ireland U17s at the European Championships qualifiers in 1997.
A change in career saw him join the Irish Guards in 2005, serving in Iraq in 2007 during Op Telic 10 but it was in 2009 his world was rocked.
An unexpected visit by his Uncle Miller while he was stationed at Windsor in September brought the devastating news his Mum Doreen had cancer in her head.
Sadly, after a short battle, Ricky’s Mum passed away on December 3, 2009 at the age of 51-years.
“She had just a few months from her diagnosis but maybe it was good she didn’t suffer for too long because she was always up and about and always on the biz. The support that my younger sister Julie and I received from the Macmillan nurses throughout that time was just fantastic.”
Ricky returned to Windsor in January 2010 but with his Dad Alex in ill health he requested a posting back to Northern Ireland.
“I returned home and moved in with Dad, we spent that Christmas together but it wasn’t the same because Mum wasn’t there.
“In May 2011 I was on exercise in Ballykinlar when my sister Julie called to say Dad was taken in to hospital so I made my way home not knowing how bad it was.
“When I got there he was on a ventilator and his organs had failed. We were told we had to make the decision to turn off the ventilator which was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do. I was sitting there looking at my Dad, he was my hero and I thought if I can be half the man you are.
“Dad passed away on May 19th aged 55 and I believe he died of a broken heart. He gave up after Mum died, she was his best friend and they did everything together.”
Having done a little bit of fundraising following his parent’s passing, it was a conversation with a colleague which inspired him to sign up for Macmillan’s Brave the Shave this year.
“I had toyed with the idea and I mentioned to a friend I wanted to do something for Mum’s seventh anniversary and that’s when I decided to grow my hair and beard until December 3 when I will brave the shave,” he said.
“I’ve had great support and it has now turned into a real occasion. Meta and Peter Tweed at the Smithfield Arms have been fantastic and that’s were I’m going to have it all shaved off. “
Ricky, who left the army in 2012, is well known throughout the local football fraternity having played for Ballymena United, Larne, Carrick Rangers, Ballyclare, Brantwood and Ballymoney, to name but a few and he has been blown away by the support he has received so far.
“Everyone has been so generous. We will be holding a raffle and auction on the night and I’ve had football shirts from Northern Ireland players and local businesses have been donating prizes too.
“Macmillan Cancer is such a great charity and the work they do is second to none. They were invaluable to us when Mum was ill and if I can honour her memory and help raise funds for the great work they do then I will be happy.”
To donate to Richard’s Brave the Shave and help Macmillan Cancer go to https://bravetheshave.org.uk/shavers/richard-culbertson/