Fiona runs the Red Dress Run for Brendan

A Lurgan woman has answered the call of NI Chest Heart and Stroke and is running their Red Dress Run - in loving memory of her brother.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 8:53 am

Fiona Mulholland, 50, has always been fairly fit but, after the premature death of her younger brother Brendan, who suffered a heart attack at just 35-years-old, exercise became even more of a priority.

Fiona put positive steps in place; joined a local running club and made the Chest Heart and Stroke Red Dress Run - this year taking place virtually on Sunday, February 21) - an annual date in her calendar.

Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke, is encouraging people to take active steps towards healthier hearts this winter. And, with February marking National Heart Month, they say there’s never been a better time to give your heart the love it deserves.

Fiona from Lurgan is running the Red Dress Run in loving memory of brother Brendan

The charity’s latest ‘Step by Step’ campaign is designed to encourage people to actively consider their cardiovascular health and puts forward easy steps that everyone can take towards a healthier, stronger heart. Step one is simple - increase those steps and sign up to the charity’s annual Red Dress Run, supported by Mace.

Fiona runs each year in memory of her brother and for her family who suffer from heart conditions.

She said: “My brother passed away in 2013 and we have a family history of heart problems; my Dad has COPD and he had a stroke last year in the middle of all this pandemic.

“So, after my brother died, my parents signed up to contribute every month to Chest Heart and Stroke – we just wanted to give something back.”

With chest, heart and stroke disease responsible for 16 deaths per day in Northern Ireland, the charity is passionate about keeping local hearts healthy.

Funds raised through this year’s Red Dress Run will help rebuild thousands of lives.

In the last year alone, the charity has invested £2.9 million in services and supported over 3,300 people living with a heart, stroke, or respiratory conditions.

Fiona said: “After my brother died, I joined St Peters Athletics Club in Lurgan. I’m not the best at all, I’m one of the slowest ones in it. But every year I like to do this run.”

During the pandemic and ongoing lockdown, Fiona has found that exercise has helped her enormously mentally as well as physically: “I do think exercise is so good for mental health as well – so good. I’m a Physio and out in the community. You need exercise to get a bit of head space. It’s the only time you get, when there’s no one calling for you or asking something, it’s a bit of thinking time which is very important.”

If you’ve been inspired by Fiona’s story, then why not step out of your comfort zone and sign up to the Red Dress Run challenge and receive your fundraising pack which will include a heart for you to wear on your sleeve and some other goodies.

Entry is £10 and under 14s are free. Raise £50 per participant and receive a Red Dress Run medal. If you can’t take part on the date, you can run or walk your way, any day throughout February.

Sign up at www.nichs.org.uk/reddressrun.