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Grieving dad of Eimear Gooderham serves up donuts to raise dough for stem cell campaign

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Belfast Lord Mayor Daniel Baker joins Sean Smyth of Eimear's Wish for a coffee and donut at City Hall to launch the 'Donuts for Donors' appeal

Belfast Lord Mayor Daniel Baker joins Sean Smyth of Eimear's Wish for a coffee and donut at City Hall to launch the 'Donuts for Donors' appeal

Donut lover: Eimear Gooderham

Donut lover: Eimear Gooderham

Belfast Lord Mayor Daniel Baker joins Sean Smyth of Eimear's Wish for a coffee and donut at City Hall to launch the 'Donuts for Donors' appeal

The father of a Belfast woman who died after a battle with cancer has launched a unique fundraising and awareness campaign after being inspired by her favourite sweet treat.

Sean Smyth, whose daughter Eimear Gooderham (25) passed away in June last year, said he is carrying out her final wish by organising 'Donuts for Donors', Northern Ireland's first ever Stem Cell Donation Awareness Day, on Friday, January 31.

Sean (55) said he hopes his daughter's fight and the way she lived a life filled with fun will inspire others to become stem cell donors.

The west Belfast make-up artist was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, in 2016.

After a lengthy search for a suitable stem cell donor she received a transplant in November 2018, but died six months afterwards following complications.

Her father said Eimear's determination and love for life have inspired him.

"As long as I do this she will live on with me," said an emotional Sean at yesterday's launch in Belfast City Hall.

His daughter brought forward her wedding to husband Philip and they married on June 20, just a week before she passed away.

"Before she died she made me promise I would do this.

"I think she knew I would need something like this to focus on to help me through. She was right."

The Eimear's Wish campaign was established in 2019, with Sean and Eimear's mum Sinead vowing to follow their daughter's determined attitude.

"She wanted me to show the world how she had beaten cancer," he said. "And now through Eimear's Wish I hope I can show other people they can take up the fight.

"What we need to do is raise awareness of the stem cell register. It's a simple thing to do, but there are so few on the register that finding a suitable donor is extremely difficult."

"Eimear would always bring a box of donuts with her when she came round," said Sean. "It seemed a fitting thing to do, set up a coffee morning campaign involving something she loved.

"I want people to have a coffee, have a donut and think about helping to save a life."

Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan, Action Cancer and Friends of the Cancer Centre are all set to benefit, with Sean hoping as many organisations as possible are able to join in. "Eimear never complained and had the ability to turn something negative into a positive," he said.

"For Eimear, life was sweet and she'd be delighted if even one life was saved through her love of donuts!"

Belfast Lord Mayor Daniel Baker lent his support to the campaign.

"This is a very important initiative to highlight stem cell donation and organ donation generally," he said.

"The team at Eimear's Wish have worked tirelessly to keep the spirit of Eimear alive by making stem cell donation an important topic of conversation.

"On January 31 I will be hosting a special coffee morning in the Mayor's Parlour and I'm calling on everyone across the city to get involved for this great cause."

Lurgan-based donut company Taboo is making 500 special edition Eimear's Wish donuts for the event and the limited-edition donut, designed in Eimear's favourite colours, will be available to buy in Taboo Belfast coffee shops, with all the profits supporting the cause.

"We had no hesitation in support Sean," said Taboo owner Brett McKinney. "My family have been affected by cancer and it's an honour for us to be involved."

Belfast City Hall will also be illuminated in pink on the day in support of the campaign.

People aged 30-35 can register to become stem cell donors through the DKMS donor centre and those aged 16-30 can register via Anthony Nolan.

For details on how to support the Donut for Donors appeal, visit the Eimears Search Facebook page.

Belfast Telegraph