The family of a much-loved Fermanagh woman who died suddenly in February are holding a fundraiser this weekend to raise funds for British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI).

Rachael Shannon from Ballinamallard passed away peacefully on February 13 at the South West Acute Hospital after she developed sepsis.

The 27-year-old was born with a genetic condition called Noonan Syndrome, which meant she had heart defects present at birth (congenital heart disease) and had undergone heart surgery in 2016. Rachael’s untimely death was not connected to her congenital heart condition, but her family have chosen to support BHF NI in order to fund vital heart research for other children born with congenital heart conditions.

A passionate supporter of Ballinamallard Football Club, Rachael’s family and friends will hold a bucket collection at the club’s home match against Harland and Wolff Welders on Saturday 4 September followed by a barbecue and music.

All money raised will be shared between BHF NI and Ballinamallard Football Club, where Rachael was a member of the ladies committee.

Rachael’s heartbroken mum Wendy paid tribute to her daughter’s fiercely independent spirit and love for life: “Rachael was born with a condition called Noonan’s Syndrome that meant she had several congenital heart defects,” she said.

“She did have some special needs, but not once did it hold her back. She went to mainstream primary school and secondary school and then at GCSE she transferred on to Erne Special School where she just thrived.

“She completed an NVQ3 in childcare and then volunteered at a local nursery. She loved children and they just loved her. She also worked in my sister’s restaurant, and she loved it, everyone there just treated her as part of the crew. She lived her life with such grace and dignity in everything she did. Nothing ever held her back.

“She did have heart surgeries throughout her life, but she always got through them and had such a zest for life. We went abroad every year before Covid, and she just loved it. She would be getting on the rides in Disney that everyone else was too nervous to get on. She just loved experiencing new things.”

Rachael developed sepsis in February this year after a week of feeling unwell and died peacefully in hospital with her family by her side.

“We had no idea she was so unwell but when she went into intensive care unit (ICU) in hospital the staff there prepared us for the worst. I couldn’t ask for anymore from the staff of the South West Area Hospital who did everything they could for Rachael.”

Rachael was a huge fan of Ballinamallard Football Club and sat on the ladies committee, who are now organising the day of fundraising in her memory.

“Racheal loved football and loved being on the committee. At her funeral the club did a guard of honour for her, and I know she would have loved that. We wanted to hold the day in her honour and share the money between BHFNI and the club.

“Rachael was well-known throughout the area, everyone knew her from being out walking our dog, Stella. People even stop me now and tell me they miss seeing her out with her wee dog. She achieved so much in her 27 years, more than most people achieve in a lifetime. Nothing held her back from doing what she loved.

“We hope Saturday will be a day to pay tribute to Rachael and raise much-needed funds for BHF NI and Ballinamallard FC.”

Head of BHF NI Fearghal McKinney thanked Rachael’s family and friends for their incredible generosity.

“Rachael’s parents, family and friends are going through unimaginable grief at the loss of their lovely daughter. The love and pride they had in Rachael just shines through when they talk about her,” he said. “We are incredibly grateful to them for supporting our life saving work at such a heart-breaking time. Each day, around 13 babies in the UK are diagnosed with congenital heart disease. Often, we don't understand why the baby’s heart hasn't developed properly. But we’re funding research to find crucial breakthroughs. So, we can improve the way we diagnose and treat babies, children and adults born with congenital heart disease, and beat the heartbreak caused by these conditions.

“We couldn’t do this research without the support of people like Rachael’s family and friends.”

To find out how you can support BHF NI contact Orla Clarke on or visit