Uncle's death inspired young singer Danielle Carragher to record charity song
An aspiring Northern Ireland singer has spoken of how the loss of her uncle after he suffered congenital heart disease led her to releasing a charity single to raise money in his memory.
Danielle Carragher, known as Dani, is an up-and-coming performer from Armagh but is also campaigning to raise awareness and support for the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke (NICHS). She was inspired after her uncle, Connor Smith, died in August 2013 while waiting for a lung transplant.
"Like so many people in Northern Ireland, my own family have experienced the tragedy of losing someone we love to one of these illnesses," she said.
"Unfortunately my uncle passed when he was 30 years old and had congenital heart disease.
"It was quite sudden. He was waiting for a lung transplant but he passed away before we could find a donor.
"He was my inspiration to get into music in the first place. He played the flute and guitar, that is where a lot of my influence would come from as well."
According to latest figures 40% of all adult deaths in Northern Ireland are caused by chest, heart or stroke illness. More than 6,000 people die each year from a chest, heart or stroke illness - that's 17 every day. And 481 women under the age of 75 die of respiratory disease and 443 die from heart attacks each year, both bigger killers than breast cancer, which claim the lives of 203 women under 75 per year.
The 24-year-old, who is studying at the University of Stirling, has now released a cover of the song The Auld Triangle, previously performed by The Dubliners and U2, to raise vital funds. "Since this, I have seen the amazing care and support that NICHS offers people from all ages - and it's not just the person affected who they help, but their family and carers too," she said.
"I know there are families who need hands-on support. I know when my uncle did pass he needed a lot of help and care, but the family were there to help. I really hope that we can raise as much money as possible through this charity single in order to help fund the care and prevention work that NICHS carries out."
NICHS is urging everyone across Northern Ireland to get onboard and support an emerging talent for a vital cause.
Orla Clarke, fundraising support officer for Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke, said: "We are delighted to have the support of such a fresh, young, local talent. It's really important that young people are aware of chest, heart and stroke illnesses and that they can be affected by them too. It's therefore great to have the backing of a representative like Dani."
- The charity single can now be downloaded at daniofficial.bandcamp.com/track/the-old-triangle
In Northern Ireland 202,208 people are living with a chest, heart or stroke condition - that's one in nine of the population. Smoking causes more than 2,300 deaths a year in Northern Ireland. Annually, about 4,000 people are admitted to hospital with a stroke and almost 75,000 people are living with heart disease. In 2013, deaths from respiratory disease accounted for 14% of all deaths.