TWO local mothers who both suffered devastating losses at childbirth were among a group of runners from across north Fermanagh who have helped to raise over £5,000 for the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS) NI.

Ciara Noble and Lynsey McGrath joined with other members of the North Fermanagh Fitness Club (NFFC) to take part in the Belfast Half Marathon.

Together they raised an impressive £5,266.54, which has been presented to the local branch of SANDS NI.

Both Ciara and Lynsey admitted that the event had been bittersweet, but added that they had enjoyed running with friends, having the memory of their babies kept alive and raising awareness for SANDS.

Kesh man, Mark McCutcheon, came up with the fundraising idea after a close friend’s baby passed away prematurely in August.

Mr. McCutcheon mentioned the idea to NFFC and the members readily agreed to join him in his quest to raise money and also to break the taboo of talking about lost and sorely-missed babies.

NFFC members Ciara and Lynsey drove the campaign alongside Mr. McCutcheon.

The timing was poignant for them as Lynsey’s baby boy, Kayden, would have been starting primary school and Ciara’s baby girl, Melia, would have been starting nursery.

When the campaign started, the north Fermanagh community got behind the runners.

A Justgiving page that had been set up broke its initial £300 target within hours.
Over the next three weeks, the donations rose to a final total of £5266.54.

On the day of the half marathon, a busload of local runners went to Belfast and they all successfully completed the event.

At a lunch afterwards, the girls joined with other mothers who had also experienced the loss of a baby/infant and heard what the run and fundraising meant to them.

Reflecting on the event, Mr. McCutcheon said: “I am very proud of what the event achieved, both in financial gain for the charity and seeing the solidarity and camaraderie from all on display.

“It has been a real eye-opener for me learning about a charity that runs on a solely voluntary basis and hearing from those who have experienced this devastating life-changing event.”

For further information on the work of SANDS, contact Suzanne Maguire of the charity’s Fermanagh branch on 07518 543156 or through the SANDS NI Facebook page.