A south Ballymena school have provided a timely boost to one of Northern Ireland’s leading charities, the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, by raising a massive £9,800 during a recent fund raising drive.
Pupils at Ballykeel Primary and nursery unit raised the money by family collections, a non uniform day and a special sponsored ‘Fitness Freddy’ day of aerobic activity.
The money comes at a critical time with the publication of a new report recommending the closure of children’s heart surgery at the Royal Victoria, Belfast and the development of a new centre in Dublin. Heartbeat Trust work to support local children and families who need life saving heart surgery. Their annual Parents Conference took place at the Ecos Centre recently.
The generous figure of £9,800 raised in Ballykeel will particularly benefit families from the school who have used the specialist service of Clark Clinic at the RVH. Clark Clinic will continue to serve families in Northern Ireland, despite the anticipated transfer of surgery to Dublin.
One P7 pupil who has had two life saving open heart surgeries is P7 Joshua McNeely.
His father, school governor and local Ballykeel Presbyterian minister Martin McNeely explained: “Joshua’s life was saved by surgeons in Belfast and eventually in Birmingham, before he was one year old. We know how much families benefit from the practical care of the Heartbeat Trust as they work alongside Clark Clinic in the pre and post operative stages.
“There are at least four families in the school who have been through similar experiences. Joshua is now an active sportsman but still needs expert cardiological care. We are profoundly grateful to all the children who have raised this amazing sum of money in Ballykeel. It really does make a difference.”
Ballykeel Vice Principal Mr Fisher said: “Our boys and girls have always been generous. But this year they have exceeded expectations. We are proud of the commitment and enthusiasm they continue to show in every aspect of school life, not least in their charitable giving.”