Northern Ireland news

Belfast schoolboy (6) completes month-long cycle challenge for hospice workers

Rossa Doherty (6) completes his 31-day cycle challenge around the Falls Park, raising £2,500 for the NI Hospice. Picture by Hugh Russell
Ryan McAleer

A six-year-old schoolboy, who vowed to cycle every day during May to raise money for the Northern Ireland Hospice, has completed his month-long challenge.

Rossa Doherty from west Belfast was cheered around Falls Park by his family and teammates from Gort Na Mona GAA club for the final leg of his charity cycle yesterday.

Belfast lord mayor Danny Baker, who hands over his chains of office tonight, was also present in one of his final acts as the city’s first citizen.

The Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh pupil, who was inspired by the efforts of Joe Wicks and Captain Tom Moore, has raised just over £2,500 to help buy Personal Protective Equpiment for the NI Hospice.

His mum Caoimhe Scullion recalled how the six-year-old had asked about doing something similar for health workers.

The family, who live next to Falls Park, decided a daily cycle would be an appropriate challenge for little Rossa.

“He asked me, ‘Mummy what can I do to raise money for the doctors and nurses’. We decided that’s what he could do, and every single day in May he has cycled around the whole park.”

The schoolboy diligently carried out his task regardless of the weather, with mum Caoimhe, dad Jim or little sister Connla (3) in tow.

But his 31st cycle yesterday was a little different.

“Today, all his friends from his Gort na Mona football team and some friends from school joined in,” said his proud mum.

“There has been a great response, so many people supporting him. He’s delighted. There was a great crowd out, all social distancing and cheering.”

She said the family selected the NI Hospice after watching a news report highlighting the need for PPE among staff.

“The hospice is close to everyone’s hearts, but we just thought they were deserving of it.”

She also said the daily cycle had provided some much needed routine for Rossa while his school remains closed.

“It’s really helped him. He has been enjoying getting out in the air and he has been getting stronger and fitter every day. The weather has helped, but even during the gale force winds, he went round the park.

“He has done so well, I’m so proud of him.”

And young Ross may not be finished yet.

“He said he wants to do it on a scooter the next time for all of June,” laughed Caoimhe.

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