Ballymoney Museum has been gifted with an incredible collection of motorcycle helmets which will be the envy of enthusiasts from all over the world.
The late Bert McCook’s collection of motorcycle road racers’ helmets and tyres has been generously donated to Ballymoney Museum.
The collection includes over 100 helmets worn by famous riders, past and present, including Joey Dunlop and the Armoy Armada, Robert Dunlop and his sons Michael and William, Alastair Seeley, Phillip McCallen, Jeremy McWilliams, Bruce Anstey, Ray McCullough and Richard Creith.
The museum plans to have a selection of the helmets on permanent display in the coming weeks, with the full collection on display to the public next summer.
Mr McCook, from Armoy, followed road racing all his life.
He was friends with many of the riders on the local circuit and began gathering helmets and other memorabilia several years ago.
Since then, he became a familiar sight at various bike shows, exhibiting his collection to help raise funds for the Injured Riders’ Welfare Fund. His charity work attracted support from many riders who regularly donated material as his collection grew.
Following the passing of Mr McCook, his family announced that the treasured collection would be presented to Ballymoney Museum.
Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council, Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan invited the McCook family to Riada House in Ballymoney for a private reception to thank them on behalf of Council.
After meeting the McCook family, Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Michelle Knight-McQuillan said: “Given that the Borough is host to the International North West 200 and Armoy Road Races, this generous contribution to the museum is very meaningful.
“It is a pleasure for everyone who follows this exciting sport to see these helmets and tyres used by some of the world’s most famous riders on display.
“This collection is one of the most important donations to the museum service has received in recent years.
“It will be a legacy for Bert McCook which shows just how much he loved road racing and will be shared and enjoyed by many generations to come – not only by residents of the Borough but by race fans from across the world who visit the museum every year.”
Speaking to the Ballymoney and Moyle Times, Museum Manager Keith Beattie said: “The museum plans to have some of the helmets on permanent display in the coming weeks, with the full collection on view to the public next summer.
“Mr. McCook lived at Armoy and life long road racing fan.
“Riders often donated to his collection and it quickly grew to fill his entire garage!
“A well known face in the paddock and friends with many riders.
“Over the years he has been a familiar sight at motorcycle shows, using his collection to help raise funds for the Injured Riders’ Welfare Fund.
“The death of Mr. McCook in early August this year came as a terrible shock to everyone. At his funeral, his family announced that the treasured collection would be presented to Ballymoney Museum. On hearing of this remarkable gesture, the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council, Councillor Michelle Knight McQuillan invited the McCook family to Riada House for a private reception to thank them on behalf of Council.”
Personal friend and Clerk of the Course of Armoy Road Races. Bill Kennedy, told the Times: “Obviously I have known Bert all my life and he was a great enthusiast and follower of road racing. He was also a close personal friend of my late brother Frank and they would have travelled all round the country to various road races.
“I am delighted that the McCook family have presented this great collection of helmets so that other enthusiasts of road racing can enjoy them.
“Bert had a great collection, not just of helmets, but pictures, tyres, memorabilia etc. He often put them on display at shows to raise money for the Injured Riders Assocation. He never took one penny for himself but donated it all to the Association.
“Bert’s collection goes back decades. He had helmets and memorabilia from the 60s right through to the present.
“This is a great gesture and it will be a great display for road racers who come to the area for the Armoy Road Races or the North West 200.”
Ballymoney Museum is located at Ballymoney Town Hall, Townhead Street.
Opening hours are Monday to Thursday and Saturday 9am until 5pm, and Friday 9am until 4.30pm. Admission is free. Telephone Ballymoney Museum on 028 2766 0230 or visit www.causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk.