Grieving families raise £40,000 for Hospice

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The families of two Donaghmore women, who passed away due to cancer last year, have been spurred by grief to raise just over £40,000 for Hospice charities.

The relatives of Ethna McMahon and Teresa Caffrey inspired 170 people, ranging in age from 8 to 76, to pull out all the stops and take part in a gruelling mountain charity challenge in the Mournes on June 4.

The McMahon family, who have thrown themselves into the task of fundraising since they lost their beloved mother Ethna McMahon last November, said they had set themselves an original target of £10,000 to be shared between St John’s Hospice Newry, and Our Lady’s Hospice, Dublin. They said they were shocked and delighted when the total was exceeded more than three-fold.

“From the very outset people responded in a most positive way, not only volunteering to walk but contributing generously to the fund”, said Ethna’s husband Aidan.

“Local businesses, schools, and sports clubs all got involved, and a local businessman sponsored and supplied bespoke t-shirts for the event. After the event, walkers sat for several hours on the mountain exchanging stories, congratulating each other on personal achievements and capturing the beauty of their surroundings. It was a truly wonderful day.” A specially engraved stone dedicated to commemorate the women was carefully placed with other memorabilia on a mound of rocks at the top of Slieve Donard.

Aidan and co-organiser Gerry Mullan thanked all those who supported the event in any way either through their personal donations or prodigious efforts at gathering sponsors for their walk. “A huge thank you goes out to all”, said Aidan.

“The hospices rely heavily on fundraising from the public and our event has no doubt made its contribution to their target figure for each day to keep the service functioning – over £6,000.

“No doubt in the future there will be other groups to meet the challenge of fundraising for the hospice. Chatting to all those involved in our Slieve Donard Cancer Walk there was a collective sense of personal achievement, an acknowledgement that this was a charity event well worth the aching limbs and tired bodies that no doubt would persist over the coming days.

“The walk up Donard is indeed a challenge and the day was not without incident. We were indebted to the local Mourne Rescue team who were on hand to attend to two casualties during the walk. Thankfully, both injuries were treated expertly on the spot and, as of today, both have fully recovered from their unfortunate accidents on the day.”