Ballymena's 'wee Mark' inspires local woman to take on Berlin Marathon

Rachel McNabb


Rachel McNabb

A Ballymena woman is taking on 26.2 miles at one of the world’s most famous marathons on September 16 to help raise money for the British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI).

Mairead Agnew was inspired by her young neighbour Mark Lynn, who has complex congenital heart disease. At just 8 years old, he has undergone four open heart surgeries and numerous cardiac procedures.

In 2015 Mark was diagnosed with heart failure but this still hasn’t stopped him and his parents Donna and Geoff supporting BHF NI and raising almost £3,000 for the charity.

Mairead explained: “My sister was born with congenital heart disease so this is a cause that has always been extremely close to mine and my family’s hearts. When I saw the wonderful fundraising that Mark and his family had raised, I wanted to do something to help. When I told Mark I was taking on the Berlin Marathon, he was sure he wanted us to support BHF NI once again.”

Karen McCammon, Health Services Engagement Lead for BHF NI explained: “When the BHF was founded in 1961, 8 out of every 10 babies born with congenital heart disease died before their first birthday. Our research has helped to turn this around, and now 8 out of 10 babies survive to adulthood. Breakthroughs such as these are only possible because of the support we receive from supporters like Mairead, Mark and his family. We are therefore extremely grateful for all their efforts.”

BHF have also developed pioneering surgical techniques to treat complex congenital defects. However, there is still much more work to be done. For children like Mark, who have complex congenital heart disease, treatment can be much more difficult.

Mairead, Mark and his family are keen to raise as much awareness and funds as possible and are asking everyone to support in any way they can. You can donate to Mairead or Mark in person or call into any of the following businesses in Ballymena: The Moat Bar, Kockeden Lodge, Credit Union, Willy Allen’s Butchers, The Mace, Ballykeel Chemist, Molly Malone’s Chip Shop and A Star Valeting and Detailing, Ballymena who are running a special offer between August 16 and September 16 - offering full valets for just £60 and £70 for jeeps and 4x4's, £2 of every full valet will be donated to the cause.

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