Three Larne ladies completed the Larne Half Marathon on Saturday, in memory of popular local Irish Dancing dress maker Ethel Cooke.
Local trio Louise McMillen, Amanda White and Chantal Baxter walked all 13.1 miles in 3 hours 12mins, smashing their target time of 3.5hours, and have already raised more than £1000 for Stroke Association and the Ethel Cooke memorial feis.
Ethel passed away in October 2015 following a stroke and her death inspired daughters Louise and Amanda to support the Stroke Association.
Louise, who works at Linn Primary School and runs the Claddagh Irish Dancing School in Larne, said the walk was very emotional.
“We really enjoyed the walk but it was definitely a physical and emotional challenge,” she said.
“When mum had her stroke last year it was a big shock for all of us. Mum was our everything – she was an incredible lady and that’s why we wanted to do something positive in her memory.
“My sister Amanda and I wanted to do something to support the Stroke Association because they do so much to support local people affected by stroke. We were delighted our good friend Chantal agreed to take part too. She’s been a fantastic support to us since mum’s death.
“We got a lot of encouragement from runners going past us and as we were coming along the coast road a runner tapped us on the back and said ‘keep going girls’ as he passed us.
“He then turned around to us and told us he was a stroke survivor and that he was glad to see us. It was amazing! We were all crying.
“Stroke affects more than 4500 people per year in Northern Ireland but simple lifestyle changes like getting active can really reduce your risk of stroke.
“Signing up for the Larne half marathon walk gave us the motivation and focus to get out walking and improve our health.
“It’s been tough but we’ve really enjoyed it and it’s helped us through a difficult time. I’m sure if mum was here she would have been out there walking with us so I know she would be proud”.
The ladies wore purple T-shirts emblazoned with Ethel’s photo and were supported by their daughters Aimee, Gemma and Emeli who cheered them around the coastal course.
Laura Hewitt, Fundraiser at Stroke Association said: “Congratulations and thank you to Louise, Amanda and Chantal for supporting the Stroke Association.
“Thanks to fundraisers like them we can support the 35,000 stroke survivors and their families in Northern Ireland. We’re incredibly grateful to Louise and all her family and friends for supporting us.”