Belfast Telegraph

Eight-year-old Niamh going the extra mile in charity bid to complete all of Northern Ireland's park runs

Niamh Lemon with her father Stephen
Niamh Lemon with her father Stephen
Niamh with other runners at Ormeau Park park run in south Belfast

By David Young

This is the young schoolgirl who has set herself a formidable charity challenge.

Niamh Lemon, from Dundonald, is determined to take part in all 28 park runs held across Northern Ireland before her ninth birthday, which falls on Christmas Day.

She has already completed around 25 junior park runs of 2km and has helped her dad Stephen at adult park runs.

Stephen (42) said: "She was so keen that I thought maybe it would be a good thing if she tried to do them all.

"It's quite a thing to be able to say that you've done all the park runs in Northern Ireland."

A full park run is five kilometres, so Niamh will have done almost 150 kilometres by the time she finishes her challenge.

Stephen added: "I'm so very proud of her - not just for wanting to do the 28 runs, but because she wants to do it for charity as well.

"That's the bigger thing, to be honest."

Niamh, a pupil at Dundonald Primary School, has a track record of raising funds for charitable causes.

A couple of years ago, she decided that for her birthday she didn't want presents but for donations to be made to charity instead.

This time Niamh has chosen to raise funds for Water for Kids, a UK charity established 20 years ago to provide safe water.

It works with communities in African countries to dig wells, protect water sources, build toilets and deliver hygiene education.

This reduces the spread of diseases and improves the wellbeing of local people.

The charity has already transformed the lives of over 390,000 people in 154 communities in nine countries.

Stephen said: "When I went to set up her JustGiving page, Water for Kids made sense.

"She's interested in water and, hey, she's a kid."

Niamh's fundraising campaign is already going well.

So far she has raised more than double her modest initial target of £100 - and is now aiming for £400.

The young park runner has already completed two of her full-scale runs - at Victoria Park and Ormeau Park in Belfast.

Her next run will take place at Falls Park in the city tomorrow - the third of her 28-strong target.

Overall, her challenge will see her complete almost one park run every week until Christmas in order to reach her formidable goal, her dad explained.

Stephen added: "Her sister Chloe, who's 10, will be doing her transfer test in November, so we will lose a few weeks because of that.

"The running is the easy bit. It's all the travelling around that's the hardest."

The charity mission is set to take the family all around Northern Ireland.

Stephen, a civil servant, said they hoped to combine some family holidays with the park runs being staged in locations at the opposite end of Northern Ireland from the family's Dundonald home.

"There are a good few park runs that are near us, but there's also Derry, Omagh, Enniskillen, Rostrevor, Limavady and Portrush - so there is quite a bit of travelling to do. "It'll be our holidays," he explained.

Readers can follow Niamh's park run progress on her Facebook Page.

Called Niamh's Running Challenge, the page will feature regular updates and photos as the schoolgirl counts down to the park run target she hopes to achieve by her Christmas Day birthday.

Niamh's fundraising page is at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/niamhs28parkrunchallenge

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