Emotional day for Andrea as she marks Roma’s tenth birthday

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Thursday was a day of mixed emotions for inspirational mum Andrea McAleese.

Back in 2009, Andrea tragically lost her three-year-old daughter Roma, when she was knocked down outside her Coleraine home.

It created a wave of sadden across the borough.

Thursday would have been little Roma’s tenth birthday.

Her mum marked the occasion by cutting the first sod at the garden where she hopes will help other local parents come to terms with their grief.

Fighting back the tears as she spoke to friends, family and parents who have lost children, Andrea told those present that the garden was now ‘pretected by our angels’.

“Today is a very special day for those in this Borough who have lost a child,” said the well-known hairdresser.

Andrea spoke about the ‘special people’ she had met along the way, and paid tribute to a keen supporter of the Angel of Hope Garden project, Coleraine man Davy Anderson, who tragically died follolwing a motorbike crash at Easter.

Davy’s partner and children, Lewis and Charlie, were present at the event.

When Andrea posted a facebook message about her idea for the garden - she had hundreds of people offering their support.

Two years on, and after fundraisers held the length and breadth of the Borough, the day that Andrea had dreamed of finally arrived.

Helping Andrea to turn the first sod was John McGarvey.

John sadly lost his daughter Kelly (30) in January last year.

A well known local builder, John has been contracted to carry out the work on the garden, which should be completed by the end of the summer.

Speaking about her relationship with John, Andrea told those present: “John and I met under tragic cirumstances, but I know that we will be friends for life.”

Andrea added: “I know that Roma and Kelly are here with us today, and I can’t wait until we are all here in September at the official opening.”