William Dunlop's partner pays emotional tribute to road racing legend

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The partner of the late William Dunlop says she isn't sure if he knew how 'exceptionally special' he was. 

Jannine Brolly has written on his website after the Ballymoney man died in a motorbike crash earlier this month. 

William's bike is believed to have malfunctioned at the Skerries 100 practise races in Dublin.

His father Robert died in a crash during practice for the North West 200 in 2008, and his uncle Joey Dunlop was killed at a race in Estonia in 2000.

It came weeks after the 32-year-old pulled out of Isle of Man TT races over concerns about Jannine's pregnancy, but the couple had since been reassured. 

Janine is mother to William's two-year-old daughter, Ella, and is expecting their second child.

Thanking racing fans for their support, she also praised William for putting his family first, and said she's not sure if shes ready just yet to take in all that's happened.

Fans left tributes at the Dunlop memorial after the crash

The message in full reads:

"On the Friday when Ella and I waved William off in his van for the weekend he had the biggest smile on his face, he was genuinely looking forward to heading away for a couple of days racing. No pressure, no worries, just go and enjoy himself – that is the precious last memory I have of Will leaving our home. We felt as if we had weathered the worst of the storm for this year. Our luck was changing and plans were being made for the coming exciting months as we prepared for life as a family of four. The anxiety that usually appeared when he left for a race weekend wasn’t there this time, in fact, when I got news that there may be some kind of problem, the thought that this could be concern over William didn’t even initially enter my head. The words that followed in the next few minutes didn’t register, to be truthful, I’m not sure if they do now. We were so happy; this isn’t how it was supposed to go.

Going off to race in his old van, which incidentally was his pride and joy no matter how many times it broke down on us, was just life to William – a life that he loved. I think I always knew that racing would always be part of our lives, he would never be able to let go of that pull. It is intrinsic to who he was, who he always will be. Although as past couple of years I could clearly see how something had shifted for him. The day that Ella was born I looked at him when they placed her in his arms and I watched him fall in love. That will always be my most treasured memory. I don’t think he could believe that surge of love himself. The focus on planning a year out through the coming races was now filled with a countdown each time he went away until he was back at home. From my point of view, the past few months I had come to completely rely on him as I worried about our baby on the way. William never let me down, he stepped up and looked after us so incredibly well – I knew that he would always put his family first, and in turn, William knew how much we absolutely adored him. Our family was our complete universe – our own little bubble and I am struggling to let go of that. I think that is why for the days since I found out I have just wanted to hide. Speaking about it would make everything a reality and I’m just not ready to allow that to fully happen yet.

I just wanted you to know that I have read the messages of support and condolence and I am so, so grateful for them. Everyone who has sent cards, posted their memories and images and shared how they felt that they knew William have been such a comfort, please know how much I truly treasure them. Speaking to those who were the closest to him – his circle of friends and sponsors who stood by him when things were at their toughest, was a small but genuine group and having them around him was so important. It makes me realise how lucky we are to have them in our lives. I don’t think William knew just how exceptionally special he was, for someone who preferred to say very little, he really could make a lasting impact. It was that indescribable quality that made me fall in love with him. It has been mentioned many times how uncomfortable he got with any form of praise, but I think Will would have been so proud to know how much he is thought of and somewhere he is smiling to himself.

To those who visited Louise’s home and attended the funeral, please know that support is very much valued. Seeing the care and love given to William’s Mummy and Nana has been remarkable. His brothers have done him so proud. As a couple, we created a new family circle and combined they have taken such special care of Ella and I, organising everything and allowing me to concentrate on my main priority – my babies. My mum, granny and sister haven’t left my side and I don’t know what I would have done without them. Road racers have hearts like lions, but I am surrounded by the strongest women you could ever hope to meet. I hope that I can do them proud too.

William raced because it was his passion, woven deep within his DNA, but he was allowed to live his life doing that passion professionally thanks to his supporters. Thank you for that unfaltering support. Finally, to those who have been so outstandingly generous to Ella and I, well, thank you just isn’t anywhere near enough, but please know how much I truly appreciate it. You have shown such incredible compassion. One day I will be able to share the incredible memories and achievements with both our children, I will also be able to share the little mundane private memories that made up our family life – all of them are equally as important. They will always know how special Daddy was and how much he loves them – William was a tremendous sportsman, but where he really shone brightest was as a father. I promise that they will always know that.

I miss him more than words can possibly say, but am so thankful I will always have part of William with me, forever.

I would give anything for one more day.

Thank you with all my heart,


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