THE Atlantic Suite of the Royal Court Hotel, Portrush, was filled to capacity on Saturday, January 26 as Sea Cadets from all over Northern Ireland gathered with family, friends and colleagues of the late David Philpot, to remember his life.
David, who died by suicide on February 10, 2017, had been involved with Portrush Sea Cadets for over 28 years.
He was also a Project Manager at RQIA and a part time neighbourhood police officer and the evening was a reflection of how David touched peoples' lives without even realising.
The evening was held in aid of the Flowerpot Foundation, a charity set up in David's memory by his fiancée, Debbie McCrellis.
The aim of the Flowerpot Foundation is to help families bereaved by suicide.
Speakers on the evening included Lt Cdt (SCC) Cliff Burns BEM, (ex NI District Commander and friend) William Thompson, ex PSNI colleague and personal friend.
An introduction to the Flowerpot Foundation was given by Sean McCarry, Community Rescue Service Regional Commander and close friend. Sean is also one of the Directors of the Flowerpot Foundation.
Tributes were also paid by Duncan Thornton, ex- CO of Portrush Sea Cadets and friend of David, Theresa Nixon, Director of Assurance at RQIA and close work colleague of David's.
Cadets from Bangor, Ballymena and Lisburn, among others, performed songs and musical pieces as the evening turned out to be a celebration of David's life.
Memories were told of David's last minute ski trips, his knowledge of just about everything and how he ran on ‘Philpot time’ which meant he was, inevitably, late to almost everything!
And whilst many a tear was shed at the memories, many a laugh was also had.
For those who may not have known David as well as others, they would surely have come away from the evening a richer person from hearing about him.
And whilst the evening was a celebration of David, it also served as a reminder to look after our mental health.
Speakers touched on the fact that it's OK to speak out, to tell friends and family you're struggling with your mental health and to never be afraid to ask for help.
Also on the evening Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant Mrs Joan Christie CVO OBE, and Commander Peter C.C Campbell, LVO, OBE, DL, Royal Navy (retired) presented Debbie and Jay with The Royal Navy Midshipman's Dirk, which was posthumously presented to David Philpot.
Debbie accepted this historical and significant piece on David's behalf, acknowledging that he would have been humbled and perhaps even embarrassed to have been honoured in this way.
Debbie praised the Sea Cadets, saying David would have loved the evening, he would have loved the fact that the cadets took centre stage and their talents were highlighted.
Commander Campbell said David was a worthy recipient of the Midshipman's Dirk as he had been a loyal person, committed to Queen and Country.
Those gathered also received a sneak peek into the private life of David Philpot, the life he lived at home where he was most content among his birds and cacti, where he enjoyed planning holidays and spending time with Debbie and Jay.
The evening was summed up as a “positive light in the dark” in which David's friends could gather and remember the life he lived.
For more information on the Flowerpot Foundation and how you can contribute contact Debbie on 07784181318.