Heysham girl’s Christmas wish to help kids in need

9 year-old Niamh Barnsley-Ryan, of Penrith Avenue in Heysham, will be beginning a year-long fundraising challenge at Christmas when she starts a run of over 800 miles (in stages!).'Christmas elf Niamh out for a practice run.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'14-12-2015
9 year-old Niamh Barnsley-Ryan, of Penrith Avenue in Heysham, will be beginning a year-long fundraising challenge at Christmas when she starts a run of over 800 miles (in stages!).'Christmas elf Niamh out for a practice run. PIC BY ROB LOCK'14-12-2015

All little Niamh wants this Christmas is to help reopen her favourite Heysham park and make wishes come true for vulnerable children.

Kids in Heysham, including Niamh Barnsley-Ryan, were devastated when Bay Cottage Play Area closed leaving them with nowhere to go. The play area was branded a safety-risk and shut in October because Lancaster City Council could no longer afford to maintain it.

9 year-old Niamh Barnsley-Ryan, of Penrith Avenue in Heysham, will be beginning a year-long fundraising challenge at Christmas when she starts a run of over 800 miles (in stages!).'Christmas elf Niamh helps with Christmas tree decorating.  PIC BY ROB LOCK'14-12-2015

9 year-old Niamh Barnsley-Ryan, of Penrith Avenue in Heysham, will be beginning a year-long fundraising challenge at Christmas when she starts a run of over 800 miles (in stages!).'Christmas elf Niamh helps with Christmas tree decorating. PIC BY ROB LOCK'14-12-2015

But the dedicated nine-year-old has been the driving force to help reopen the park along with the Friends of Bay Cottage Play Park group.

Niamh has decided to take part in an 800 mile triathlon challenge over a year to contribute to the park’s £200,000 target and also raise money for Make A Wish Foundation.

Niamh said: “I want to raise money for Make A Wish because children’s dreams come true and I want to make them very happy.

“When disabled children went to the park before they didn’t have much to play on, which is sad and at Ryelands park there is quite a lot to play on so we thought it would be nice to provide more for this park.”

As a family it has brought us all together, Niamh has kick started all this

Rachel Barnsley-Ryan

Niamh, who wants to be an athlete when she grows up, is also behind her family’s now very active lifestyle.

For the first time mum Rachel, dad Robert and their daughters will all be doing challenging exercises to make Niamh’s journey a reality.

Rachel said: “As a family it has brought us all together, Niamh has kick started all this and we are doing a lot more now.

“We want to keep fit over Christmas and this is the perfect way for us to do so, we want to encourage other families to be active.”

Despite her school, Brownie and sport commitments, including the City of Lancaster Triathlon club, Niamh is still finding the time to encourage others.

She is an inspiration to her younger sisters Farrah, who is nine months old, and five-year-old Amelie, who has asked for a bike for Christmas so she can cycle just like sister.

They also joined Nimah on her year’s first fundraising event – a 2k festive family fun run at the weekend.

Around a 100 people attended the run on Heysham promenade and helped raise more than £200.

Kirsty Chekansky, of Friends of Bay Cottage, said: “We couldn’t stand by and see a much-loved play area just scrapped.

“It is amazing that someone so young cares so much to dedicate a whole year to it.”

Lucy Leeming, from Make A Wish foundation, said: “It is so lovely for other children and young people to want to help others that are going through such difficult times.

“Money raised from Niamh’s challenge will help us grant even more magical wishes to children and young people facing life threatening conditions.

“A wish can be anything from being a princess for the day, meeting a celebrity to going on that family holiday.” To donate visit https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/niamh-barnsley-ryan.