Little Jacob’s memorial balloon forges friendship from tragedy

Carolyn Herdman with son Jacob
Carolyn Herdman with son Jacob

A Lurgan charity is set to benefit from a fundraising night with a unique French connection after a firm friendship was forged from tragedy.

Blackskull mother, Carolyn Herdman is organising the event for the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and the Lurgan charity Downs and Proud in memory of her baby son Jacob.

And she told how she has formed a unique bond with a French family she has never met following Jacob’s tragic death.

The Cuisniers, who live on an island in Brittany, found a balloon, released at young Jacob’s graveside in Banbridge, a day after his funeral.

Carolyn has now invited David and Soizic Cuisnier to a fundraising event at Banbridge Rugby Club in memory of Jacob who died on January 28, at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children. Carolyn said she was shocked to find that just four days after the funeral - and hundreds of miles away - one of the balloons was found.

One that read ‘Miss You’ was discovered washed up on a beach in Brittany, on an island that the French family own.

Both families, have since formed an unbreakable bond. Carolyn has been in contact with the French family via Facebook sending pictures and stories of her little boy.

The fundraising event will be at Banbridge Rugby Club on June 19.

It will consist of an auction, music and a tug of war.

Carolyn, was also part of a relay team that completed the Belfast Marathon this year. She was helped by Stephen Gibson, Sarah Holding, Ciara Doyle and Cheryl Carson.

Little Jacob, was born eight weeks premature on January 30, 2014.

His condition was discovered from a scan and it was revealed that Carolyn and boyfriend Michael’s baby would suffer from Down’s Syndrome.

After spending weeks in hospital when he was born he faced further problems and was hospitalised five times during his short life .

He was prone to chest infections and despite having what was classed as a good heart, his lungs were weak and he suffered hypertensity.

Just short of his first birthday he was admitted to hospital, where he stayed for three weeks before he lost his fight for life.

“Everyone was so good to us and the care that Jacob received was second to none,” she said, “Nothing was ever going to fix him. We wanted to give something back.

“The care and the help and support we could never repay them so in a way this is just a thank you for everything that they had done for us. The staff at the Royal could not have done enough for us. I will never forget that.”

n For more information ring Carolyn on 07500 846 660 or Ronnie 07724 460 000.