A Magheraveely woman has raised over £7,000 in memory of her late mother.
Annie Forster from Lisnaskea died in November last year after suffering for many years with Facioscapulohumeral Dystrophy (FSH) - a form of Muscular Dystrophy.
Having watched her mother’s slow deterioration from a fit and healthy farmer’s wife to a woman unable to walk independently, Tanya Harron is determined to raise more awareness of Muscular Dystrophy and its various forms in Fermanagh.
In her latest venture the mother of three along with five other volunteers, participated in a skydive recently.
“The sun was shining and she was with us every step of the way,” says Tanya.
Tanya’s son, Dean, inspired by his grandmother’s struggle with FSH, is now part of the genetics research team at Canterbury University, determined to contribute to the ongoing work to find the gene that causes Muscular Dystrophy in the first place.
“You have to find the cause before you can find a cure,” says Tanya, “He has a degree in Computing. But in the last few years he decided he wanted to do something to help people like his nanny.
“So he switched to Genetic Science and is now doing his PhD at Canterbury University in genetics.”
Tanya recalls the tell tale signs that warned her family something was wrong with her mother.
“She started to fall. Her balance would just go on her very quickly and when she fell she hadn’t the reflexes to put out her arms to protect herself. 
“She had no ability to save herself. And when she fell, she couldn’t get up again.
“She had no idea when it would happen - there was no warning. It wasn’t that she would feel dizzy or anything like that first.
“That was when we realised that something was badly wrong.”
Apart from wearing away at her muscles in the physical sense, Annie’s FSH also chipped away at her own self-confidence.
“Mummy was a very proud wee woman with a great sense of humour,” says Tanya, “But towards the end she became very fearful of falling and didn’t like to go out at all. She was always afraid she would fall and hurt herself. 
“She’d suffered a dreadful bang to the back of her head once and another time, had fallen and hit her face off the sink and broken a couple of teeth.
“She was left feeling very nervous and she didn’t like the idea of having a walking aid in town or anything like that.”
The affects of FSH took its toll on all the family.
“We used to have a farm in Magheraveely but with mummy’s health in decline, she and daddy retired to Lisnaskea,” says Tanya, “My father and I were mummy’s carers - I would be up every day to help.
“In her last 10 years, I watched FSH take my mother’s arms, and legs as well as other muscles around her body.
“Mummy was always outdoors, very fit and able. But FSH took away so much of her life.
“The last six years were the hardest - she stopped walking independently, couldn’t shower independently. It was very hard on her as a proud woman. But she always struggled on.”
Tanya is determined to continue raising money and awareness locally and hopes that 20 years from now, the prognosis for Muscular Dystrophy will be different.
“I really feel that despite a number of people suffering from Muscular Dystrophy in Fermanagh, there is a very large void of understanding of what it is and the different forms that there are,” she says.
“I have learned there are a number of children living locally who have Duchenne MD.
“It affects males from birth - they could be in wheelchairs from as young as four or five and sadly don’t live much passed their early twenties. 
“Duchenne MD is affecting a large number of our children and I want to do something to help, in mummy’s name.”
So far, Tanya’s fundraising and awareness efforts have included street collections, handing out leaflets, visiting schools to speak to pupils, bag packing in local stores.
“I’m going to keep this going,” she says, “I feel so passionate about it and I know mummy would be very proud.”
To date Tanya and her volunteers have raised £7,512.59, however the total continues to rise. To make a donation go to: