A Ballymoney woman made a huge difference to a local family’s life...following the arrival of premature twin girls

Ballymoney woman Gemma Mornin with singer Ritchie Remo.
Ballymoney woman Gemma Mornin with singer Ritchie Remo.

A Ballymoney woman who has been volunteering as a Family Support Volunteer for TinyLife, the premature baby charity, has been praised for the “fantastic support” she gave to a local mum and her new-born twins.

Gemma Mornin provided essential support to Geraldine McFadden, her twin girls and two year-old son when she was placed with the family in November 2013.

TinyLife offers practical and emotional support to families who have experienced premature birth or sickness at birth.

TinyLife offers practical and emotional support to families who have experienced premature birth or sickness at birth.

Gemma says: “The twin girls were around eight weeks old and weren’t that long out of hospital after being born early and their brother had just turned two a few days before the girls were born.

“I was introduced to Geraldine and her family with the help of Helen, my Family Support Officer. As a Tiny Life volunteer, you are committed to giving three hours volunteering a week but I often helped out more if Geraldine needed as I lived nearby.

“I was there to lend a hand with anything that needed to be done, from feeding and changing to assisting with trips to the supermarket, which can be a challenge for anyone with a young child never mind new born twins and a toddler.

“I have got to know Geraldine and her family very well over this period of time and I enjoy being a part of and watching the children grow up. I am very passionate about volunteering for Tiny Life and I would like to thank Helen Stevenson who was my family support officer at the time, who greatly helped and supported me with everything I have achieved whilst volunteering.

“I also see it as a privilege that I am Tiny Life’s youngest volunteer as the age limit for applying has now increased.”

Her volunteering and support has been praised bymum mum Geraldine McFadden.

She told the Times: Our twin girls were born at 35+3 weeks.

“They were good weights at 4lb 7oz and 5lb 6oz but had terrible trouble with reflux and therefore feeding issues and ultimately poor weight gain.

“It was a round-the-clock stressful operation trying to feed, wind and, unfortunately, ‘clean up’ too. Their big brother had just turned two, a few days before they were born, so our hands were well and truly full.

“We were introduced to Gemma through the premature baby charity, Tiny Life, when the twins were around eight weeks old.

“She quickly became an indispensable part of our family. Gemma was assigned to be our volunteer ‘Mother’s Helper’ initially for three hours, one day per week.

“However, she had been such a fantastic help that we soon asked her to come extra days per week, adding to her commitments.It has truly been a great pleasure to invite Gemma into our home.

“Gemma assisted with all nature of activities with our babies and toddler, providing great support to our family life.

“These activities included: feeding; dressing; bathing; sterilising equipment; helping us with getting out and about; and housework. This support genuinely helped to enhance both mother-babies bonding and family relationships in general, as she has undoubtedly relieved us of a lot of extra stress.

“I would also like to express my gratitude to Helen Stevenson from Tiny Life who was a fantastic representative for the charity. I recently organised a Twins Play Date where we raised £190 for Tiny Life. This is a fantastic charity, whose work and contribution in the lives of families is immeasurable.

Gemma has decided to organise a fundraiser herself to raise much needed funds to help the charity continue with its services on the North Coast.

The fundraiser in aid of TinyLife will feature one of Ireland’s favourite entertainers, Ritchie Remo in concert at the Magherabuoy House Hotel in Portrush on Friday, October 23 from 8.30pm.

Gemma adds: “I would like to thank Gillian Breen for advising me, family and friends who are supporting me, the businesses near and far who have donated excellent raffle prizes, the Magherabuoy for the use of their venue and of course, the fantastic Ritchie Remo and his team.”

Geraldine McFadden hopes the public will come out in force for the event: “I urge people to support Gemma in her forthcoming fundraising event, so book your tickets for Ritchie Remo asap.”

For any information, ticket sales or donations please contact Gemma on 07835673748.