Northern Ireland news

NI Chest Heart & Stroke appeals for 'a little help' this Christmas

Bosco McShane
Suzanne McGonagle

A CHARITY is seeking funds to help people battling to overcome the long-lasting effects of heart attacks, strokes and respiratory conditions.

Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS) has launched it Christmas ‘Little Things' initiative.

It says many people are left with debilitating psychological symptoms and physical disabilities, leaving them unable to do things like hugging loved ones, buttoning clothes or going out.

Around 17 per cent of the population in Northern Ireland are living with chest, heart and stroke conditions, including Bosco McShane (44) from Coalisland, who suffered a sudden bleed on the brain in 2019.

"I was probably the last person you would have expected to have a stroke," he said.

"I was always on the go, a dad of six and busy with my Youth Ministry work. I don't drink or smoke, and thought I was fighting fit. I had even run in the London Marathon in April and the Dublin Marathon in October just a couple of weeks beforehand."

Mr McShane said the side-effects from his stroke remain and at Christmas "it's the little things that are affected that can annoy you the most".

"For me the Christmas lights blinking on the tree triggers something - I can't even sit in the room with them," he said.

"Background noise is also more difficult. When you have all the children in playing with their toys and they're making noise, it can be very tough for my head. I don't want to be a 'bah humbug' and take down the lights or take away the toys, but sometimes I just have to avoid it or go and have a lie down which is hard.

"It affects the whole family that way – they're watching you and trying to keep the noise down if I need to have a sleep during the day, which is tough."

Mr McShane said without the life-changing care and support from NICHS, he would be lost.

Jackie Trainor from NICHS said: "We understand everyone is finding it tough at the moment with the cost of living crisis, but without the support of the Northern Ireland public, we would not be able to continue to help the thousands of local people who need us.

"We really appreciate any support people can give us. From a £1 donation, which may seem so small, to thousands of pounds from a fundraising event, every pound is important and really helps us to make a difference."

Northern Ireland news