Northern Ireland news

Charity names award after Ballymena boy (8) dedicated to raising awareness of heart condition

Mark Lynn with British Heart Foundation chief executive Simon Gillespie

A CHARITY is to name an award after a Co Antrim schoolboy who was dedicated to raising awareness of a heart condition he battled throughout his short life.

Mark Lynn (8) from Ballymena was born with congenital heart disease and underwent four open heart surgeries and numerous cardiac procedures.

The Ballykeel Primary School pupil became the face of several British Heart Foundation (BHF) campaigns and despite his young age was dedicated to raising money and awareness for the charity.

He raised more than £5,000 for BHF research into congenital heart conditions.

Sadly he died last September, just days before he was due to travel to London to attend the BHF Heart Hero Awards, in which he was a finalist.

He had been named as 'Young Heart Hero' in Northern Ireland and was short-listed for the UK-wide prize, which recognises the different ways people are helping beat heartbreak from heart and circulatory disease.

The BHF yesterday said that the 2019 accolade will be named the Mark Lynn Young Heart Hero award and will go to an exceptional person under the age of 18 years who has done something amazing for the BHF and is a source of inspiration to others.

Orla Clarke from BHF NI said Mark's "bravery touched every single one of us".

"He lived with complex congenital heart disease but always had a smile on his face and wanted to do so much for other children like him," she said.

"It was heartbreaking that Mark didn’t make it to last year’s ceremony where he was named one of the Young Heart Heroes. We had a beautiful tribute to him on the night and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

"It’s so special to name the award after Mark this year and his memory lives on through his family and all the work they are doing to help other children."

People are being asked to nominate their own Heart Heroes for the awards.

Simon Gillespie from the BHF said: "Heart and circulatory diseases affect the lives of millions of people across the UK, often in devastating ways. Yet, there are so many ordinary people who, when confronted with that challenge, are doing extraordinary things.

"The BHF’s Heart Hero Awards recognise and celebrate the efforts of those who are working selflessly to make life better for other people."

Mark Lynn from Ballymena passed away in September

For more information visit bhf.org.uk/heartheroes, with nominations open until March 1.

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