A young Ballymena boy who was born with congenital heart disease has officially opened the new British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI) shop in the town.
Mark Lynn (7) and Cllr Audrey Wales MBE were joined by staff, volunteers and customers on Thursday to cut the ribbon on the new store on 48-50 Ballymoney Street.
The shop sells clothes, accessories, books and DVDs, household goods, bric-a-brac, toys and records, with profits helping BHF NI raise vital funds for its life-saving and pioneering heart research.
Mark, a primary four pupil at Ballykeel Primary School, was born with complex congenital heart disease and has undergone four open heart surgeries and numerous cardiac procedures since he was a baby. In 2015 he was diagnosed with heart failure but that hasn’t stopped him and his parents Donna and Geoff supporting BHF NI through donations to their local BHF shop and raising money.
Mark said: “I’m really excited to open the shop today in Ballymena. Last year I collected bags of donations from all my friends and family and donated them to the BHF, so I’m really pleased to have a shop even closer to me. I know the BHF’s research helps me and other children who have heart problems and are in and out of hospital so I’m glad to help them back.”
Money raised in the shop will support the charity’s work in NI.
Cr Wales said: “It is a real pleasure to open the new BHF Ballymena store today. It was great to meet all the fantastic BHF staff and volunteers, as well as members of the public that support the BHF and help raise vital funds.”
Maureen McElhatton, Area Retail Manager at BHF NI said: “The opening of the new Ballymena store has been fantastic. It was a pleasure to welcome Mark, his family and Cllr Wales to the shop so they could see how we are raising the vital funds to keep hearts beating locally.
“We hope to continue this success with support from the local community, so if you are in the area, please do visit the store to see what fantastic bargains are on offer. Each item sold will help us fund more life-saving heart research.
“We still urgently need more donations so if you are having a clear out in the next few weeks, please donate any good quality unwanted items to us. We would love to receive these and it couldn’t be easier to donate because we offer a completely free collections service.
“If any local people would like to volunteer with us we have a number of volunteering opportunities at the new shop so just get in touch.”
The new store is located at 48-50 Ballymoney Street. Tel: 028 2565 4631 Customers can donate immediately by bringing their donations directly to the shop or arrange a free collection by calling 0808 250 0024. For more information about BHF shops, please visit www.bhf.org.uk/shop