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Huntington’s Disease charity launches new Youth Service thanks to Armagh family’s fundraising

Youth worker and counsellor will help children who lives are affected by HD

Pictured at the launch of the new HDANI Youth Service, which has been made possible thanks to the fundraising efforts of an extended Co Armagh family.

A Northern Ireland charity has paid tribute to a Co Armagh family whose incredible fundraising efforts have led to the launch of a new youth service.

The Huntington’s Disease Association Northern Ireland aims to help families affected to remain active, involved, connected, valued and supported – while leading as independent and normal a life as possible.

In December, one Co Armagh family handed over £41,450 to charity following a year-long fundraising drive.

Janice McCartney and her extended family have been campaigning for Huntington’s – a disease which has affected her family.

In 2012, she lost her father George Heatrick at just 58. Her two aunts also suffer from Huntington’s, as does her cousin Helen Hawthorne, from Redrock.

The family have undertaken numerous fundraisers to help HDANI help others.

A Barn Dance last summer raised £33,000 alone!

Now the charity has paid tribute to them for their efforts which have entirely funded a new Youth Service!

It’s a very rewarding day for all involved.

Janice told Armagh I : “We are so delighted. When I was growing up with dad having Huntington’s we had no help whatsoever.

“We are just so delighted we were able to have a say in what way the money was spent. This service to the youth is so important.

“Once again we want to thank the community for getting behind us and making it happen.”

The charity is also thrilled to be able to make a difference to young people whose lives are affected by Huntington’s Disease.

Saturday saw the launch of the HDANI Youth Service with a special party at We Are Vertigo.

According to HDANI: “We have been able to secure our youth worker and counsellor Michelle for the next three years solely because of the incredible fundraising activities of the Hawthorne, Heatrick and McCartney families and their friends in Armagh.

“We wanted to mark the launch of our new youth service with a huge thank-you!!”

The service is led by Michelle McGrath, a qualified counsellor, who has been trained in HD and has worked with children in schools, as well as with children and young adults in her counselling practice in Bangor.

She is employed by HDANI as a part-time sessional youth worker and counsellor and her role will be to provide emotional support to children and young adults from HD families via phone, text, email, social media or face to face contact.

Michelle will help them to understand and express their feelings in a safe space and develop personal coping mechanisms, and can also help parents explain HD to their children and share specially designed resources.

She will also organise events throughout the year for children and young adults from across Northern Ireland to come together for fun activities, to form new friendships and to access support.

Michelle will work with the youth committee – Chloe, Ashley, Saoirse and Laura – whose role includes helping to plan the work, assist with fundraising and act as mentors to other children and young people impacted by Huntington’s Disease.

The charity says it is indebted to the “fantastic fundraising efforts” of the extended Hawthorne, Heatrick and McCartney family circle.

It is indeed an incredible achievement from a very determined family – well done to each and every one of you and to all who have shown their support!

To find out more about the HDANI youth service email:

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