A KEY supporter of a 34-year-old Keighley fund to help youngsters in need has died, aged 91.

Mother-of-four Eileen Ryan, who had lived in the Keighley area since 1951, died at the Raikes Care Home in Silsden.

She was the widow of Holy Family Catholic School deputy head Danny Ryan, who died in 1984. The Danny Ryan Memorial Awards were founded in his memory.

Since 1985 there has been an annual fundraising dance and presentation of cash grants to mainly local young people coping with serious, long-term illnesses.

Mrs Ryan attended the awards each year, presenting the grants to recipients and their parents. In more recent times the awards have taken place in Keighley’s Victoria Hall. Mrs Ryan was present at the event in March last year.

She and her husband had four sons – Seamus, Patrick, Sean and Vincent.

Sean said his mother had been a member of the congregation of St Joseph’s Church, Keighley, for many years and was active in church-based activities and the Mothers’ Union.

She was born Eileen McHale in County Mayo, Ireland, and moved to England in 1948. She met Danny Ryan in Leeds when he was embarking on his teaching career and the pair married and moved to Keighley in 1951.

They initially stayed in Ingrow then moved to Exley Mount, where Mrs Ryan ended up living for exactly 50 years. Mr Ryan retired from teaching due to illness in 1983.

Mrs Ryan’s own employment included a stint at NSF, as well as working in local textile mills and at a laundry. She later became a dinner lady at St Joseph’s Primary School.

Sean said the awards fund started in memory of his father had expanded to include one-off donations to people urgently needing assistance, as well as the main, annual presentation to youngsters at Victoria Hall.

“We’re amazed the community has kept the awards going for the best part of 35 years, allowing these donations to be made in my father’s name,” he added. “He’d be delighted with it.

“Over the years there have been at least two dozen people involved with running the awards.

“As word about the fund has spread, and thanks to people’s generosity, the awards now provide extra donations throughout the year in response to requests from families in immediate need.”

Mrs Ryan’s funeral was due to take place yesterday (Jan 9) at St Joseph’s Church.