Life

Losing son 'worst night of our lives' says trucker raising funds for bereaved parents

A year after his son died from an asthma attack, Jenny Lee talks to a Lurgan dad who is organising a 'truck run' to help raise funds to support other bereaved parents

Stephen Green pictured with his sons Tiernan (left), who passed away last year following an asthma attack, and Ryan

THE parents of a young Lurgan man who died from an asthma attack last February, are keeping his memory alive and seeking to support other families who have suffered loss, by organising a charity truck run.

Tiernan Green was just 20 when he died in his parents' arms, after suffering a fatal asthma attack at his home in February last year.

A talented Gaelic footballer, Tiernan was fit and healthy and had enjoyed an evening out with his friends, before developing breathing difficulties when getting ready for bed.

"Tiernan had asthma from birth, but had no attacks until he was 18 years of age. He always used the blue Ventolin inhaler, but never used the brown, which is a steroid," his dad Stephen recalls. "Tiernan seemed to be fine before his attack that morning."

His parents did everything they could to keep their son alive, but the attack was "too far gone", according to his dad, and within 20 minutes of coming into his parents' bedroom for help, Tiernan was dead.

"It was the worst night of our lives," says Stephen, whose wife Donna and other children Stefan (25), Miseeire (19) and Ryan (8) still battle constantly with grief. "Loss never leaves you and the pain of emptiness every day is so challenging."

Stephen and Donna have "found solace" and "support" by attending the Anam Cara Parent Bereavement Group in Armagh.

"Anam Cara lets parents have a place of understanding and you leave feeling a little less down. It brings you into the room with other people who have also lost a child. You can let things out that you can’t anywhere else.

"It was so hard at the start," is his message to parents who have lost a child and who are struggling amid their terrible grief. "But there will be a light at the end of the tunnel."

Tiernan Green, from Lurgan, who died after suffering an asmtha attack in February 2017

Of his own family's situation, he says: "It's a cross we have to bear. We try to stay focused on positive things that will help us. We know that we have very dark days ahead, but we know some will be good also."

Following their tragic loss, Tiernan’s family have been keen to highlight the importance of asthma education and management and have raised money to install 86 life-saving nebulisers into schools and community organisations in Northern Ireland, as well as donating money to Craigavon Area Hospital's Resus Department, enabling the renovation of the family room there.

Now Stephen, who drives a truck for Norman Emerson Group (NEG), is busy organising the inaugural Big T Truck Run in memory of his son, to raise funds for Anam Cara.

"When Tiernan was a young lad he was very interested in lorries and went to some truck shows alongside me. The name comes from Tiernan's nickname. He got called Big T as he was 6ft 4ins with very broad shoulders and watched over all his friends when out socialising."

The Big T Truck Run will start at the Emerson Sand Yard, Lurgan, Armagh on Saturday June 30 at 2pm and will include a barbecue, raffle , bouncy castle and live entertainment from country music star Pat Christie and truck-pulling from Sean O’Hagan, who at 7ft 2ins and 32 stone, is the world’s tallest strongman. There is no entry fee to this event, but donations will be accepted.

Anam Cara events are open to all bereaved parents regardless of the circumstances of their child’s death, the age at which they died or whether this was recent or not. Upcoming events include a meeting in the Armagh City Hotel on April 25 and an information evening with psychotherapist and counsellor Brid Carroll in the Silverbirch Hotel in Omagh on April 30.

:: For more information on the Big T Truck Run, contact Stephen at stephengreen705@gmail.com or colin@normanemerson.com. For more on Anam Cara visit Anamcara.ie or call 028 9521 3120.

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