Fundraising is fitting tribute to little Jacob

Jacob Kirk
Jacob Kirk

A Blackskull couple have raised around £19,000 for charity, since the death of their little ‘superstar’ boy, last year.

Jacob Kirk died on January 28, two days before his first birthday, and his parents have spent the year since his tragic death raising thousands of pounds for charity.

Carolyn Herdman and partner Michael Kirk, who are expecting their second child in March, have already handed the money to both the Downs and Proud and the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children in Jacob’s memory.

They used some of the money to organise a Christmas visit for children to attend Santa’s Little Village in Aghalee. They held a major fundraising event in Banbridge Rugby Club in June, which collected £8,000 and Carolyn, took part in a relay team at the Belfast Marathon last year. She also raised money at her work in Cafe Vic Ryn in Lisburn and a Just Giving page helped to collect £2k.

Jacob was born with Down’s Syndrome on January 30, 2014. His story reached new heights as a balloon with a note about him and which had been released in his memory travelled 700km to France where it was found by a young family who have now forged a bond with the baby’s parents.

David and Soizic Cuisnier, who live on an island in Brittany, found a balloon which read ‘Miss You’ that was released at Jacob’s graveside in Banbridge, a day after his funeral. Both families, have since formed an unbreakable bond. Carolyn has been in contact with the French family via Facebook sending pictures and stories of her little boy.

Carolyn who described her little toddler son, as a ‘superstar’ said, “Jacob was quite literally a hero. He was a superstar.

“He was such a fighter. He’d been on life support four or five times but always made it. And we started to think he was Superman and that he could come through anything,”

Carolyn explained how her life has been over the last 12 months.

“We have all been very busy this year yet it has been long and empty without Jacob,” she said. “My family and friends have been very good to us but we now have to look forward to March - it has given us another reason to smile again.

“Little Jacob’s life touched so many people. The only time he was annoyed was when he would cry when doctors would be poking him with needles. He took everything that was thrown at him and always had a smile. He was just able to say his first words ba ba.”

She continued, “Everyone has been so good to us and the care Jacob received was second to none. Nothing was ever going to fix him but we wanted to give something back.”

“The care and the help and support we could never repay them so in a way our fundraising was just a thank you for everything that others had done for us. The staff at the Royal could not have done enough for us. I will never forget that.”

In total the couple raised £10k for Downs and Proud, spent £650 on a special party and visit to Santa for the members of that charity and donated £8k to the PICU at the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children.