Northern Ireland news

Friends of Co Down teen who died in house fire take on fundraising challenge

Ellen Finnegan (18) from Castlewellan died in January 2016

FRIENDS of a Co Down teenager who died in a house fire are taking on a fundraising challenge to mark the fifth anniversary of her tragic death.

Ellen Finnegan (18) from Castlewellan was found in the bedroom of her flat above her father's butcher's shop on January 16 2016.

A pupil at Assumption Grammar School in Ballynahinch, she died on the third anniversary of the death of her mother Nicola from cancer at the age of just 49.

To mark the fifth anniversary of Ellen's passing, her friends are taking on a 5k challenge, which it is hoped will also raise awareness of people suffering with grief.

Those taking part can run, walk or cycle the distance, with almost £10,000 raised so far.

Organised by Mairead McKibbin, funds will go to a local charity dedicated to helping people who suffer from poor mental health, depression and bereavement.

Writing on her Go Fund Me page, Ms McKibbin described losing her "best friend" just three weeks before their 19th birthdays.

"Ellen was the biggest force of energy I've ever felt in my life, which made losing her possibly the most painful experience in my life," she said.

"At 18 I was catapulted into a never-ending pit of grief, while trying to figure out what I was doing with my life at university, in a different country, away from family and friends.

"But I think saddest part of this story is that I wasn't the only person feeling like this.

"My story is only one of many. Ellen had touched the lives of so many people, who were all suffering, many of them in silence.

"Ellen also lost her mum Nicola on 16th January 2013. I have memories of how grief would sometimes consume her.

"This January 2021 will mark five years since Ellen passed away.

"Therefore in honour of Ellen and Nicola, we will be doing 5k a day for every day of January to raise awareness of people suffering with grief.

"This is something for everyone to get involved with - you can run, walk, cycle, row 5k a day/week/month, it's up to you."

Ms McKibbin said funds raised will be donated to the MYMY (Mind Your Mate and Yourself) charity.

"I was one of the lucky ones that had so many incredible friends and family around me, those of whom refused to let me carry the pain of grieving someone alone," she said.

"I know that there are people who are not as lucky, which is why it is important to know that there are services like MYMY that are here to help you with whatever you're going through."

To donate visit uk.gofundme.com/f/5k-a-day-january.

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