Eva and her family are ready to 'Join the Jingle' in Ballymena

Shaun Oneill


Shaun Oneill



A Ballymena mum has described the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice as a “life saver” to her family, as final preparations continue for this year’s Jingle All The Way fundraising campaign backed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Council is delighted once again to give its support to Ballymena Hospice Support Group, whose volunteers have been pulling out all the stops in recent weeks and months to raise much needed funds for the charity.

This Saturday, November 23, the town will come alive with festive colour and fun for an unmissable Community Fun Day at the Harmony Hub, with music and children’s entertainment running throughout the day there and in the Tower Centre - where face painters, balloon modellers and nail artists are sure to put a smile on the face of even the biggest Grinch, while ‘Roary the T-Rex’ and his dinosaur friends will also be making a special appearance.

Why not hitch a ride on the ‘Santa Bus’ to take in all the sights and sounds of Ballymena at Christmas and pose for your photo with the fabulous stilt walkers and street entertainers, or simply stop and savour the moment while choirs from local schools and a host of musicians spread the magic of the season.

The bus proved a huge hit with people of all ages last year and will travel throughout the day, ferrying passengers through the streets in style, and the best bit is that it’s completely free!

Michelle Jenkins, whose eight-year-old daughter Eva receives regular care at the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, says her family is “really excited” about the events taking place as part of this year’s Join the Jingle campaign.

“We have been using the Children’s Hospice since Eva was one”, the mum-of-four explains.

“Eva would stay there two or three nights at a time three times a year and the Children’s Hospice is a life saver to us. The minute we walk through the door Eva is all smiles and the hospice feels like home to her. The nurses keep her routine, just like we do at home. It really is a home from home and Eva just loves it.

“It is the one place we can come away from knowing that Eva is completely at ease. As well as the overnight stays, the nurse who knows Eva will come out to the house for a four or five hour shift so we can go out for dinner or take the boys to get their hair cut.

“That is very helpful too, because it means we don’t have to pack everything up like we do for overnight stays.”

Eva lives with a condition known as Cornelia De Lange and is non-verbal. She has no mobility and is fed by PEG tube, as well as suffering with heart issues and reflux.

Michelle and her family will be out in force to support the Hospice fundraiser this weekend.

She is currently on a career break but is looking forward to a Coffee Morning organised by her colleagues at the Education Authority’s Salaries Office in Ballymena on Friday, November 29, at 10am.

The Hospice Support Group has also organised a special screening of Frozen 2 starting at 9.30am on Saturday, November 30, with an extra treat for the little ones in the form of goodie bags for those attending.

You can grab a cuppa and something sweet from 10am to 12 noon on Thursday, December 7, as the Ballymena Branch of the Ulster Defence Regimental Association host a Coffee Morning in their Services Club, with proceeds going towards the final tally of the hard-working local charity committee.

Ballymena Hospice Support Group Secretary Muriel Barr said: “We are so proud that Ballymena is the flagship area for the Jingle All The Way Campaign province wide.

“The wonderful people of Ballymena and the surrounding area have taken the bravest of local children and their families to their hearts and are determined to help maintain and grow this unique and compassionate care provision.

“We are also truly grateful for the ongoing support we receive from Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in helping us provide a lifeline for families who face the toughest challenges on a daily basis, all year round.”

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