5,000 thank yous!

From left to right: Heather Baird, Roger Robinson, Gareth Baird and Lorna Mahon share a celebratory toast with NICFC Corporate Fundraiser Sorcha Chipperfield.
From left to right: Heather Baird, Roger Robinson, Gareth Baird and Lorna Mahon share a celebratory toast with NICFC Corporate Fundraiser Sorcha Chipperfield.
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A group of friends from the Coleraine area have received high praise from the Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children (NICFC) for their exemplary fundraising efforts.

Every year without fail, Heather Baird organises a sponsored walk to honour the memory of her husband, David O’Neill Baird, who was himself a dedicated fundraiser for NICFC.

She is ably assisted in this endeavour by her sister, Alison O’Hara, her brother David Mahon and his wife Lorna, as well as close family friend, Roger Robinson.

Since the inaugural event in 2008, the group have raised more than £5,000.

Setting out from a scenic part of Castlerock, the walk usually attracts around 60 participants. Tasty food is provided for the walkers by Roger, the owner of Crusoe Coffee Shop in Castlerock, out of his own pocket.

David Mahon explained: “David, my brother in law, began to support NICFC after seeing the excellent work NICFC carried out at its Shimna Valley respite home.

“When David died from a heart problem a few years ago, Heather wanted to continue the fundraising on his behalf and came up with the idea of staging an annual sponsored walk in memory of him.

“Alison, Roger, Lorna and I all immediately stepped up to help her with the event.

“We always hold the walk on the 29th September, which was David’s birthday, and also decided to name it ‘DOB’s Dander’ after him.”

David, Lorna and Alison’s coffee shop at the Loughan Marina, is close to NICFC’s Pine and Birch cottages, where families with a child or teenager diagnosed with cancer may take short breaks.

According to David, this has really brought home to the fundraising group how important their efforts are.

He said: “We didn’t realise until the Boat Yard Coffee Shop ended up being right beside the cottages just how much our fundraising was helping to achieve.

“We regularly see young kids staying there and it is very gratifying to know we are doing something to help them.”

NICFC is extremely grateful to Heather, Lorna, David, Alison and Roger for all their support over the last few years.

NICFC Chief Executive Gillian Creevy said: “This is an amazing group of fundraisers.

“They work very hard to support our work and they do this with such enthusiasm and commitment. We are very proud of them all and really appreciate the money they have raised which provides much needed practical and emotional support to Northern Ireland children living with cancer and their families.”

Plans are already underway to hold DOB’s Dander once again in 2013.