Now, that goodwill has been harnessed to benefit thousands of others who also suffer from the amyloidosis that killed Mr O’Neill.
Money raised from a fund established in his memory has been donated to the UK NHS National Amyloidosis Centre at London’s Royal Free Hospital, allowing it to continue its pioneering research into the rare, little-known disease.
The Jack O’Neill Amyloidosis Laboratory was officially opened last Friday by his widow Jackie, who handed over a cheque for £60,000 ($91,800), raised at a ball in Dublin last November.
The upgraded and refurbished laboratory has a key role in the success of the centre, one of only a handful in the world that undertake diagnosis, research and treatment for amyloidosis.
...combating a rare disease
THE blood disease affects one person in every 1,000, and is caused by the accumulation of abnormal protein fibres in body tissues, eventually leading to organ failure and death.
“This is a truly horrible disease,” said Professor Mark Pepys at the laboratory opening. “It’s rare enough that most doctors haven’t seen a case of it in their entire career.”
Mr O’Neill was 44 when he died, very soon after being diagnosed with amyloidosis. He worked for Howe Robinson for 11 years, and was a member of the Baltic Exchange from 1987.
He worked alongside his close friend and Howe Robinson director Guy Hindley for eight years. But at the time of his death he was working from Dublin, where he had settled with Jackie and their children Mathew, Jennifer and Eoin.
Howe Robinson, along with Jack’s family, established the Jack O’Neill Memorial Fund last year and it is now the largest source of private funding for the National Amyloidosis Centre.
Mr Hindley, along with Howe Robinson’s Peter Kerr-Dineen, joined Jackie and four of Jack’s six siblings, as well as numerous friends, to celebrate the laboratory opening last week.
The centre will also get further support from freight derivatives broker FIS in March. FIS has agreed to give the centre half the money it raises from its annual charity day, in which all the commission it receives is donated to a deserving cause.
A reminder of relevance
A NICE touch from NYK, which to mark its 120th anniversary in 2005 donated a number of seats to the Los Angeles Maritime Museum that are now arranged on a small terrace overlooking the port that commemorated its centenary last year.
The charming museum is packed with wonderful ship models, sepia photographs and other memorabilia of a bygone age.
Apart from a model of an elderly Evergreen containership, there is almost nothing to explain that the Port of Los Angeles is not only still in business, but is also one of the world’s premier ports.
Not until visitors step outside and see the massive cranes at APM Terminal’s Pier 400 just across the harbour, or watch giant containerships berthing at the Evergreen terminal, would they be aware the port has a vibrant future as well as a fascinating past.
Perhaps that is what NYK had in mind when it provided the benches.
But even more curious is the eclectic mix of secondhand books on sale in the museum’s gift shop.
A mere $20 would buy the American Bureau of Shipping’s 1967 edition of the rules for building and classing steel ships. That might appeal to shipping enthusiasts. But there is no explanation for the autobiography of Bertrand Russell, or Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson, nestling among the nautical publications.