Aghagallon stalwart repaying the support of ‘Tiny Life’ charity

By Niall Gartland

AGHAGALLON clubman Ivan Lavery is undergoing a number of sponsored events in support of the Tiny Life foundation, who provided him with immeasurable support during a time of great personal grief.

Lavery’s sons Joseph and Ivan were born premature on April 24, 2018. Despite the best efforts of staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, Joseph passed away shortly after he was born. Baby Ivan was making great progress after a very traumatic birth but tragically an infection formed and he sadly passed away on May 6.

Lavery, who describes those days as the ‘most traumatic and difficult period of his life’, has never forgotten the support of ‘Tiny Life’, a local charity dedicated to reducing premature illness and death, as well providing a range of support services that meet the growing needs of families of premature babies locally.

He’s embarking on a fundraising mission which has already raised a third of his ultimate target of £10,000 in aid of Tiny Life and their partner organisations.

Alongside friends and family, he will take part in a range of sponsored events such as the Belfast Marathon Relay, a hike up Slieve Donard and the New York City Marathon in November.

Taking us through the reasons behind the fundraising drive, Lavery said: “I lost two baby boys six years ago, their names are Joseph and Ivan.

“It was a very difficult time, and it’s still very difficult, but Tiny Life were brilliant in providing support during the birth and the difficult times in hospital when Joseph and Ivan passed.

“They offered so much support, between arrangements, comfort, providing a memory box and there was a room you could stay in. Tiny Life helped provide all that.

“That support was difficult in a very difficult time. It’s been very difficult for me to try to get the courage to face all those demons and I decided maybe this year was a good time to try and repay them for their efforts. I’ll start off with the Belfast Marathon Relay, my friends and family will help me with that, I have a hike up Slieve Donard planned and in November I’m going to do the New York Marathon and that’s it basically.”

Lavery is a proud Aghagallon man, a small Antrim village a few miles north of Lurgan. He’s been involved with the successful Clann Éireann ladies team and helps out Armagh with their recovery sessions. He says the GAA have been crucial in helping him pick himself up the floor after such a traumatic life event.

“I’m part of Aghagallon, I’m the minor manager this year and I played for the club all my life. I’m a very proud Aghagallon man. I also helped out Clann Éireann and Armagh, though I don’t want to overplay that one.

“The GAA gets a bad rap at times between this and that but when times are tough the GAA community really rallies around you. I’ve been part of GAA teams all my life, I’ve friends all over Ulster and you’re never far removed from someone who has been through what I’ve been through who can offer advice and support.

“Even with fundraising, you can target people from all over Ulster and different parts of the world – I lived in Australia for a while.

“It was an extremely traumatic time and it knocked the stuffing out of me but the GAA is the one thing that gets you up and running again, it got me up and running again and being part of Clann Éireann ladies was a major thing, they were a massive support to me.”

Elaborating on the sense of community and belonging that the GAA provides, especially in tough times, Lavery says: “Everybody knew what had happened but it was one of those things I couldn’t talk about, and it’s still very difficult to talk about.

“I’m trying my best to face it head on and repay the help I’ve been given to raise some money. It’s for Tiny Life but the GAA has also been massive and it’s always been a huge part of me and my family’s life.

“My dad was chairman of Aghagallon for 25 years. My whole family’s steeped in it and my sister has started up an ‘All-Stars’ team in Aghagallon, for children with special needs. My nephew has Down’s Syndrome, they played in Croke Park last year which was brilliant.

“You know yourself, when you’re part of a GAA family, you’re never going to be sitting too long without someone coming along and giving you a hand.”

You can donate to what is a great cause at the following link:

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