An avid fan of Star Wars, a graduate in Computer Networking, a master of karate and a mentor to many, Liam O’Neill loved life and lived fully. He is remembered on the first anniversary of his death by his brother, Kris.

by Kris O'Neill

My family and I have lived with Marfan syndrome for 37 years. We saw how it affected my little brother Liam. He received the best of care from amazing consultants and surgeons, and lovely nurses. He was so very much loved by our mother Ingrid, our father Des, our step-parents, and us, his siblings, along with his many friends. He got on with things and with living life. He never once complained about his health. I think that because of this we underestimated the seriousness of his illness. 

Liam had been through open-heart surgery many times and always came out the other side with a smile on his face. But he did not recover from his surgery last April and tragically died in August 2021. It has been a huge shock to us as a family that the effects of Marfan syndrome ended Liam's life at such a young age.

I am an air ambulance paramedic in Scotland. I created the Cannonbawz Run in 2015 to raise money for the Marfan Trust. With Liam my inspiration in everything I do, I will continue this rally. In the picture above, Liam (left) and I are posing with one of our amazing rally cars.

Although Liam was seven years younger than me, he was rock and my hero - my partner in crime. We were best friends and had many (mis) adventures together. One of our favourite things to do was to just chill out and watch movies and enjoy pizza and drink - irn bru (his favourite tipple), movies n munchies. Liam was less than pleased when they changed the recipe of Irn Bru. 

Our favourite films were 'Star Wars', 'Smokey and the Bandit', 'The Big Lebowski' and any Schwarzenegger film. We would all know every word of the movie, usually watched to death with plenty more of its movie life left to go. Liam and I used to do the 'Predator' hand slap over many times until we perfected it with the famous bang as the two movie giants clasped hands together saying the words: "u son of a .... " and he would never let me go until we had perfected it and with our hands stinging.  

Liam has the most incredible solid friends in his life and he would drop everything to be there for them. He would be fully suited 'n' booted for a stream wedding, or jump on the train to go home to watch an episode of afavourite programme with our brother Steven. He would loyally attend my gigs when we were playing in the band. We had so many amazing times with him and all will have amazing memories and stories that we now cling onto.

Liam has an honours degree in Computer Networking and worked so hard to get it. He organised adventures and he was a killer at karate -  just three belts away from his black belt which was awarded posthumously. I accepted it on his behalf.

As my rock, my bro and my hero, Liam accompanied me on the Cannonbawz Run many times. This amazing rally has grown in numbers and status over the years. We employ different themes from Thunderbawz (James Bond, obviously) to the Bandit Run and this latter was Liam's favourite.

Liam once came through a heart op with huge arms like Popeye because of the fluid retention. He had a great laugh about that, saying "I've got bigger guns than u bro" . 

He had amazing and supportive lifelong friends , one of whom is an author who Liam inspired to write adventure novels and is now a best seller. Liam has a role in his next book ... .

Liam and I lost our sister when we were younger.  Lynsey was just 12 when she died. She and Liam got on so well. They were always up to stuff.  She was a huge loss to us all and he was lost without her, just as I and my other brothers and the rest of family are now lost without Liam. 

I have nothing but happy memories of fun times and adventures with my brother and I will hold on to them dearly ,

When Liam died we were in a state of shock. But we wanted to give him a fitting farewell. The pallbearers at his funeral were dressed as Stormtroopers and the Star Wars main theme was played.

Liam was laid to rest atop a hill overlooking the Moray Firth. It's a stunning view and lovely peaceful place. I go up and play him his rock tunes n wee rock the place up together for our visits. A yoda seat was created in his memory as a shrine.

The Marfan Trust is registered in England and Wales under charity number 328070 at c/o 24 Oakfield Lane, Keston, Kent, BR2 6BY. Contact us at [email protected] or by phone on + 44 (0)333 011 5256
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