Belfast Telegraph

Niamh (8) completes every Northern Ireland park run to raise cash for Uganda

Niamh Lemon from Dundonald with park run volunteers
Niamh Lemon from Dundonald with park run volunteers
With dad Stephen

By David Young

An eight-year-old girl who vowed to complete every park run in Northern Ireland before her ninth birthday has completed her challenge.

When Niamh Lemon started in April there were 28 runs ahead of her. On Saturday she ran the last at Orangefield Park in Belfast, raising over £3,300 for charity.

But the young Dundonald Primary School pupil is not finished yet.

Two new park runs in Ballyclare and Strabane have been added to the total since the starting gun fired - and fleetfooted Niamh will run them, too, before her birthday on Christmas Day.

By the end Niamh will have run 140km and will have travelled over 1,700 miles for the park runs - the equivalent of going from John O'Groats to Land's End and back again.

Her dad, civil servant Stephen Lemon, has been with his amazing daughter every step of the way.

"We're really delighted," he said.

"Niamh's very happy, very proud of her achievement."

The little girl first set off in April at Victoria Park in east Belfast.

She has now raised £3,385 for Water For Kids, a charity which helps provide clean water in Uganda.

It was established 20 years ago to provide safe water and works with communities in African countries to dig wells, protect water sources, build toilets and deliver hygiene education.

Water For Kids has already transformed the lives of over 390,000 people in 154 communities in nine countries.

Almost 200 people contributed to reaching Niamh's impressive fundraising total.

The thousands of pounds Niamh has raised will give three communities in Uganda a clean drinking water supply for the first time.

"This makes a huge difference. People will no longer become ill from easily prevented diseases, and with the money they save on not buying medicines they can use it to benefit their communities" Stephen said.

"This will improve their agriculture as well, and with the kids being healthy they can attend school more often.

"Hopefully there will also be a reduction in blindness as new born babies will no longer have to be washed in dirty water.

"Clean drinking water will also help with hygiene in the rural communities, meaning that fewer children go blind, fewer children die from preventable diseases - and the communities have a reliable have a water source for their agriculture.

"The donations are changing the lives of thousands of people for the better."

After her Christmas birthday, Niamh plans to take a break from her charity fundraising exploits.

"She's going to keep running, but she will be taking a step back from charity work for a while, and will just enjoy her running," her dad added.

"She's done really well. I'm very proud."

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