Events in memory of Altnagelvin midwife raise £9,267 for British Heart Foundation

Fri, 31/07/2020 - 11:07 -- Editor

A ‘5K for Rae’ fundraising event raises an incredible £9,267 in memory of Altnagelvin Hospital midwife Rae King who sadly passed away earlier this year.

From Ebrington, Derry to the rugged Arranmore Island to the sunshine of Sydney, Australia, and bustling streets of New York City over 300 people took part in a 5km walk recently in memory of well-loved midwife Rae King.

Rae tragically suffered an aortic dissection and died on April 29. Sadly because of the Covid-19 restrictions at the time friends and colleagues were unable to attend her funeral but came up with the ‘5k for Rae’ event to celebrate the Altnagelvin midwife’s life. Rae’s family had requested donations in lieu of flowers to go towards the British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland and the event and donations has raised an incredible £9,000 for the local charity.    

Family, friends and colleagues of the popular midwife completed their 5K walk at 27 different locations across the globe over the last weekend of June 2020. Three of Rae’s friends, completed the 5km on a treadmill they were so determined to take part!

Event organiser Deirdre Gill, Clinical Risk Midwife at Altnagelvin Hospital said: “The response has been amazing. I didn’t think it would take off so much, but in a way it hasn’t been a surprise because Rae deserved such a turnout and it just shows how well thought of she was.

“We weren’t able to say a proper good bye to Rae because of Covid-19 but around 100 midwives turned up to line the roads outside the funeral home and there was a minute silence held in the Maternity Unit.  We really wanted to do something special to remember Rae. She made such a massive impression on those who knew her. We put out a poster during the month of May to urge Rae’s friends and colleagues to do their own personal 5K for Rae in and around their home in small social distancing groups and just use the time to remember Rae. By the end of June, the small groups just grew. We included a link to the donation page on the British Heart Foundation Facebook page.

 Rae’s family kicked off the first walk near her home in Limavady and with Rae being so well-known walks took place in 27 places, at Inch Island, Roe Valley Country Park, Manchester, Edinburgh Donegal, Derry, Portrush and Strabane, to name a few. There was even one in Sydney Australia and New York City.”

Deirdre continued: “Rae was passionate about being a midwife and during her over 30 years at Altnagelvin Hospital she mentored many trainee midwives during her time working in the Neonatal, Postnatal and Labour wards while helping to deliver and care for hundreds of babies during her career. Rae had a very special way about her, even when she was really busy she would still make time for people in a really kind way.  All the younger, trainee midwives loved working with her. One said to me ‘you just knew the day was going to be good when you were working with Rae.’

Paying a touching tribute to her friend of 25 years Deirdre added: “She was such a lovely, unassuming person with such compassion for people and she had the most gorgeous smile. A very genuine person, she was remarkable.”

Head of BHF NI Fearghal McKinney said: “Our fundraisers are the lifeblood of our organisation, without them we wouldn’t be able to fund vital research that helps save lives.

“We’re particularly grateful to everyone who raised funds for us by taking part in the ‘5k for Rae’ event during such a difficult time. Our mission is to help improve and save the lives of local people with heart and circulatory diseases and ultimately help beat heartbreak forever. This amazing amount of £9,267 raised through the walks in memory of Rae and donations made in lieu of flowers, will help us do that.”

It’s a challenging time for charities as Covid-19 has devastated their incomes. The BHF is anticipating that without support its annual research budget could be cut from £100 million to around £50 million and that it could take years for this funding to return to pre-pandemic levels.”