Independent MLA Claire Sugden last week launched her charity Christmas cards for a cause very close to her heart.
Claire, a former parliamentary assistant for the late David McClarty, took over David’s East Londonderry seat at Stormont following his death back in April.
David, one of Stormont’s most popular MLAs, had been suffering from cancer.
In a bid to raise the profile of the Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI charity, and to remember her close friend and mentor, Claire decided to design a card with her home town on the front.
The 28-year-old, who is one of the youngest MLA’s in Stormont explained: “This was an idea I had spoken to David about last year.
“But it was too late to get things into place.
“Sadly David won’t be here this year to see the cards in print.
“After David’s death, I became an ambassador for the charity. David was so on for the idea last year, I decided I would go for it this year.”
The image on the front, of the old bridge, was taken by Claire herself a few winter’s back.
Thanks to donations from local business - Coleraine Office Equipment, Bishop’s, McClarty’s Insurance, Dinsmore Climbing Frames, Coleraine Football Club, Dixons, Homemade Cafe, The Sweet Briar, Hugh Wade and Son, Faith Mission Bookshop, John Mairs, The Belfry Deli, Fleming McKernan Associates, Daniel Henry, Mortgage and Property, McAfee Properties, Kitty’s of Coleraine, Elysium Beauty, West Bann Development, Pieces of Eight, The Sandwich Co, McAtamney’s Butchers, Moores of Coleraine, UDR Association and Coleraine FC Academy, Claire was able to get the card printed for free, all proceeds from card sales will now go to the Northern Ireland charity.
“I spoke to David’s family about the cards, and they were very happy to support me.
“Christmas is always a difficult time for those who have lost loved ones, but this is a chance to do something positive for a charity that was close to David’s heart.
“I visited the charity offices a few weeks back and I was amazed at the work that they do, it really was humbling to hear the stories.
“There are advances in medicine all the time, and thanks to fund raisers this hopefully will continue.”
Packs of cards, priced at £5 for five cards, are on sale now from Claire’s Constituency Office, Coleraine Office Equipment, The Sweet Briar, The Belfry Deli, Kitty’s, West Bann Development Centre and the Sandwich Company.
Over the next year Claire is hoping to run a number of fund raisers for the charity.
“I see my role as an MLA as a leader, and that’s why I think that getting people and community groups into my office to see what we do is very important, it’s about providing a service and giving something back.
Claire’s next fund raiser will be a mince pie morning on Friday, December 12 in her office from 10am to 1pm.
She is also offering a prize for the person who comes along with the best Christmas jumper!