Local people write on petals remembering loved ones: “It’s good to talk about it and share memories of people who mean so much to us.”

To mark Marie Curie’s biggest annual fundraising campaign, the Great Daffodil Appeal, local people have been adding special tributes to their loved ones on a petal of the ‘Great Big Daffodil’ – a striking 7-foot-tall installation in Belfast.

Super-sized daffodil springs up in Belfast

During this year’s Great Daffodil Appeal the charity is focusing on the stories behind the 8 million daffodil pins exchanged for a donation to Marie Curie. People have been visiting the Great Big Daffodil in Castlecourt Shopping Centre this weekend to remember those who are special to them and share the story behind their daffodil. Every donation and daffodil worn helps Marie Curie provide vital care for people living with a terminal illness and support for their families.

Kevin Doonan, age 30 from Belfast made a special trip down and was one of the first people to share his story on the Great Big Daffodil. Kevin had just 29 days to say goodbye to his mum Carol, from her diagnosis to the day she died. He shared his memories of that devastating time.

“On 3 March last year, my mum was out celebrating her sister’s 50th birthday. They went out and had some food and drinks – she looked amazing. They had a really good time. So, we were stunned when, just three days later, we found out that she had cancer. The speed at which it all happened was like a rollercoaster – I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.

“Before she got ill, Mum was always watching her weight. Dad loves to cook, but he noticed after Christmas that her portions were getting smaller and smaller. She just wasn’t hungry. By March, Mum’s appetite had vanished completely and she was in a lot of pain. A biopsy confirmed that it was stomach cancer. The doctors were surprised at how far it had progressed, as most people would have struggled to function at all.

“Mum got out of hospital on 9 March and we knew her outlook wasn’t good. For her final days, Marie Curie Nurses came into our home to look after Mum overnight, which really helped. At the time, I’d moved back home to be near Mum.

“The nurses were the loveliest ladies I’ve ever met. They would let us get some sleep and said they’d wake us if they needed us. It was such a relief to have them there. Really, it would have been petrifying to not have them there overnight. I was terrified that something would go wrong, and she would die alone as we slept.

“Mum passed away on 5 April. She’d only got her diagnosis 29 days earlier, so it happened incredibly quickly. The cancer crept up on us from nowhere, and once she was diagnosed she nosedived into the symptoms and the disease took over her physical body. But she was still Mum – and was even planning little surprises for after she was gone. Losing Mum has made me realise that life is short. She taught us to be resilient and now, more than ever, I feel that.

“I felt it was important to come to Castlecourt today and support the Great Big Daffodil – Marie Curie supported us through some really challenging times and by coming to things like this you realise you’re not alone. It’s good to talk about it and share memories of people who mean so much to us.”

All of the stories shared by people in Belfast will come together with others from around the UK, at a special event in London on 20 March 2019. Those who can’t get to the Great Big Daffodil can still take part by sharing stories or following its 1,500-mile journey around the UK on social media using #everydaffodil.

Marie Curie Divisional General Manager NI, Eamon O’Kane said: “Thank you to Kevin – and everyone who is supporting the Great Daffodil Appeal this year. Coming to the Great Big Daffodil to share their stories means a lot to us. Whatever your story, donating and wearing a Marie Curie daffodil will help dying people get the care and support they deserve.”

Daffodil pins are available at the Great Big Daffodil or until the end of March from Marie Curie shops as well as Superdrug, Spar and Hotter.

To find out more about the Great Daffodil Appeal, visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil  or call free on 0800 304 7025. To donate £5 to Marie Curie, text DAFF to 70111

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