Action on Postpartum Psychosis statement: tragic news of Orlaith Quinn in Northern Ireland

We are deeply saddened by the tragic news about Orlaith Quinn in Northern Ireland. Our thoughts are with Orlaith’s family at this awful time. Our peer supporters are here for family members and anyone else who has been affected by postpartum psychosis.

Orlaith Quinn

Postpartum psychosis affects 1-2 in every thousand women who give birth in the UK. It should always be treated as a medical emergency and the recommended care involves immediate access to a specialist Mother and Baby Unit - of which there are currently none in Northern Ireland.

Sadly, there still isn’t enough awareness of postpartum psychosis - not only amongst the general public, but also amongst health professionals. This needs to change. Around half of women who experience postpartum psychosis have experienced no prior mental illness. Spotting the signs can be life-saving.

Action on Postpartum Psychosis works with health professionals to provide short training sessions that can significantly impact early diagnosis - helping professionals know when, where and how to signpost to specialist services. We also have a wealth of information available online to anyone who needs to find out more about the illness and its symptoms.

If postpartum psychosis is diagnosed quickly and treated appropriately, women make a full recovery from this severe and life-threatening illness.

Our trained peer supporters are here if you’d like to talk to someone. Find out about Action on Postpartum Psychosis peer support or contact us at app@app-network.org.

Find out about Action on Postpartum Psychosis training for health professionals.

Read about Action on Postpartum Psychosis research and campaigns.

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Tonna Trekkers complete their #MilesforMumsandBabies Challenge!

Collage of the Uned Gobaith Miles for Mums team
Uned Gobaith team members taking part in their challenge.

A team of 17 from Uned Gobaith Mother and Baby Unit in Swansea Bay, Wales, have completed their APP #MilesforMumsandBabies Challenge this month - covering over 1000 miles between them during May.

In their first week they covered over 300 miles, initially doing the majority of them separately but they went on to organise a series of group walks - with a team of them even making it to the top of Pen Y Fan - the highest peak in Compilation of images of the team in their purple APP tshirtsSouth Wales!

 

Bethan Williams, Nursery Nurse at the unit, has been keeping us updated on their progress.

She says 'It's been lovely for us all getting out in the fresh air and has been a great team building activity, we have all enjoyed encouraging each other.  Between us we have walked, run, cycled and ridden 1018.4 miles across Wales, England, Norway and Greece.  We have had a number of group walks and our children and pets have enjoyed joining in with us.

We are thrilled that we have raised over £1,200 for APP and are looking forward to taking part in more challenges over the years. It has been a lovely event for us to do to celebrate our first year as a team.'

Tonna Trekkers on Aberavon Beach

Huge congratulations to the team on their amazing achievement and a massive thank you from all at APP!

You can still show your support for them at: www.justgiving.com/team/TeamTonnaTrekkers

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It’s Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week – here’s how to get involved

2nd – 8th May marks Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week and APP is keen to get as many people involved as possible!

Awareness weeks like this are a brilliant opportunity to get more people talking about postpartum psychosis (and the signs and symptoms to look out for), and to ensure that anyone affected doesn’t feel alone and knows where they can turn to for help and support.

As such, we’ll be sharing personal stories, signposting people to support, information and advice and launching our new antenatal education campaign. We’re also going to be expanding our café groups in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – so keep your eyes peeled for more on that too!

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week

In addition to Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week, organised by the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership, there will be a focused World Maternal Mental Health Awareness Day (Wed 4th May) and Pregnancy and Postpartum Psychosis Awareness Day (Fri 6th May).

How to get involved

During the week, there will be focused topic days and activities that you can get involved with by sharing our social media posts and web links to help reach more people. We’d also love to hear your stories and thoughts too – so please do tag us in anything you’re writing about online.

The theme for the full week is The Power of Connection – so we’re keen to hear about your experiences of peer support and how friends and family have helped you.

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week daily themes

Take part in free events

You can also take part in some FREE events that APP is proud to support including:

Understanding postpartum psychosis webinar

Thursday 5th May, 12pm: Understanding Psychosis

Join the National Centre for Mental Health in partnership with Action on Postpartum Psychosis (APP) and the Perinatal Mental Health Partnership to hear from researchers and the expert voices of those with lived experience of postpartum psychosis.

To book your free place, click here

Pregnancy and postpartum psychosis Awareness Day

Friday 6th May, 2pm BST: Author Panel

Join a conversation with authors with lived experience of postpartum psychosis. Hosted by Jessie Hunt, APP Marketing and Digital Communications Co-ordinator.

To book your free place, click here

Friday 6th May, 4pm BST: Pregnancy and Postpartum Psychosis Resources and Research Update

Learn about resources for women who are experiencing Pregnancy and Postpartum psychosis and their families. With guest speaker Dr Sally Wilson, APP Training and Research Co-ordinator.

To book your free place, click here

Friday 6th May, 7.45-8.30pm BST: Free online yoga session with Jo

Enjoy a mindful yoga session with Jo, a qualified yoga teacher and APP volunteer. You will need a yoga mat or non-slippy floor to practise on.

Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87537901587?pwd=UHRxNDFFNTA2Z3lHMTlqVXROamUrZz09

Meeting ID: 875 3790 1587
Passcode: 685471

...

Disclaimer from Jo: I believe that yoga is for everyone. However, when you’re practising via an online class, it is up to you to assess whether the class is suitable for you. If you’re injured, ill or have any long-term conditions you should always consult a doctor before you start practising yoga. Unfortunately, this class is not suitable if you are pregnant. It is up to you to gauge the safety of your practise and to never exceed your own limitations. I would ask you to practise slowly and in a considered way, and never rush into anything new - move mindfully and always listen to your body to take what you need from the practise. The practise might leave you feeling tired but you should never be in pain. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't, so please back out of the posture and take a break if you need to. By clicking on the link to join the Zoom class you hereby agree to irrevocably release and waive any claims that you have now, or hereafter may have, against Joanne Bushell, 'Yoga with Jo.'
yogawithjo.net

Follow @ActionOnPP

Make sure you follow APP’s social media accounts throughout the week to get involved:

Twitter: @ActionOnPP

Instagram: @ActionOnPP

Facebook: Action on Postpartum Psychosis

#ThePowerOfConnection

#MaternalMHMatters

#PPPAwarenessDay

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An Evening With The Good Enough Mums Club

The Good Enough Mums Club, a concert tour of songs from the musical of the same name, is going to be taking to the stage during April and May to delight audiences once again. The original musical, which includes a story of postpartum psychosis, has been produced, written, directed and performed by mums with the aim of ‘celebrating all the things, good and bad, that unite us as mums’.

In the safety of a local community hall, five mothers regularly meet with their young children, to share, compare, commiserate and comfort one another through the tough first years of motherhood.

The Good Enough Mums Club features songs such as “Only My Nose Is The Same”, “The Price To Be Paid” and “WTF’s Up With Kid’s TV?”. Toddle through the highs, lows and sleep deprivation of motherhood. From peeing on sticks to drooping tits, they share the love and dispel the myths with enough wipes on hand to mop the tears and clean away the snotty laughter.

When the Council threatens to close their local playgroup, five women thrown together by motherhood, overcome their isolation, loneliness, judgment and perfectionism to discover that they’re stronger as a group than as individuals, and that sometimes, being good enough is best.

Writer Emily Beecher said, “The Good Enough Mums Club grewout of my own darkest days of motherhood fighting postnatal depression and postnatal psychosis. When I shared my story, other women shared their own experiences with me, and it was so brilliant to realise all these things I thought I had been alone in were actually things that connected us.”

An Evening With The Good Enough Mums Club is a concert tour ahead of the full musical tour in 2023. You can catch it live at:

The Lowry, Salford - 22nd April (BOOK HERE)

Pleasance Theatre, London - 30th April (BOOK HERE)

MAST Mayflower Studios, Southampton - 6th May (BOOK HERE)

The Good Enough Mums Club podcast is entering its second season during the tour. You can listen to season one here or on all major podcast platforms.

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Nia’s story: I had to travel many miles from home to access an MBU

Living with bipolar meant that we had lots to consider when we were planning a family. We had to get the perinatal mental healthcare team involved from the very start to make sure we had a plan if anything were to go wrong. I knew that, because of my bipolar diagnosis, there was a chance that giving birth could trigger my symptoms, so there was talk of me being admitted to a Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) should I need that extra support.

I didn’t really know anything about MBUs at that point, and I was feeling really well so I felt confident that all would be OK. However, towards the end of my pregnancy more problems arose – I had preeclampsia, high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. It meant that I was under additional pressure, but my mental health still seemed to be on an even keel.

However, I was then told I had to have an elective caesarean and, because I’m on medication for my bipolar, I had to come off it 24 hours before the surgery. This was to allow the medicine to be removed from my body before giving birth.

I had the caesarean as planned on the 17th May 2019. Unfortunately, they had problems getting the epidural into my back so I had to be sedated. When I came round, they initially gave my baby to me but then immediately took him away again because he had a temperature and wasn’t feeding. He was taken into special care.

In the personalised care plan that the perinatal mental health team had put together at the start of the pregnancy, it stated that I needed to have my own, quiet room as lack of sleep can be a big trigger for bipolar symptoms. Unfortunately, somebody else needed the room so I was moved to a ward with crying babies. At this point, my baby boy was still in another part of the hospital.

Eventually, we were given a special care room together because, in addition to my bipolar risks, my little boy had to be tube fed. But by this point I was already becoming unwell. My mind was racing and I wasn’t sleeping.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the MBU in Manchester – many miles from our family home in North Wales.

Prior to being moved to the MBU, I was in a state of psychosis and my memories of this time are a complete blur. I think my mind has just shut out memories of the trauma, but it was a different matter for my husband, who was in the throes of it all, desperately trying to get me the right help. It was really difficult for him because the midwife was off, as was the care coordinator and the psychiatrist! I was initially transferred to a PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) in North Wales but then I was moved to the MBU in Manchester as there was nothing closer to home.

I was grateful to have access to an MBU, as it meant that I was able to stay with my baby. But the fact that we had to travel two hours from home made life really difficult. Each day, my husband was travelling for four hours between the hospital and our home, and doing a full time job in between all the travel. The stress he was under was immense.

Regardless, Tommy continued to visit every day and that’s something I am so grateful for because, when you’re in hospital so far from home, it can feel really isolating and lonely. Two hours is a long time when you’re in mental health crisis. I did make some friends in the MBU, but when you’re so far from home it makes everything feel ten times harder.

I had to have ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) whilst I was at the MBU, but this was a treatment that had worked for me in the past and, combined with the medication, I started to slowly recover.

Eventually, I was allowed overnight stays at home, then visits for a few days at a time and then, by around the end of July, I was finally discharged. Getting home was such a good feeling, and I really started to feel well again.

However, unless something changes, I don’t think we’d consider another baby as the experience was far too stressful and traumatic for the family.

There’s a national shortage of MBUs overall but, where I live in North Wales, we literally don’t have one at all. I remember the doctor telling me that, if we decided to have another baby, I would probably need to give birth in England so that I had quick access to specialist care if I became mentally unwell again. Because I’m Welsh, I really wouldn’t want to feel as thought I was forced to have my baby in England.

I’m also not confident that we’d be able to get in to the Manchester MBU again. There is such a shortage of MBU beds, so, if we couldn’t get in, it could mean travelling even further away – and the strain on Tommy, and myself and the baby, would be unbearable.

I know how lucky we are to have our baby boy but we’d love for him to be able to have a baby brother or sister. For women like me living in North Wales who are at risk of serious postnatal mental illness, there needs to be specialist care closer to home. I know I definitely communicate better in Welsh, especially when I am unwell, so having support in the Welsh language is also really important.

This is why I’m campaigning for an MBU for North Wales – so other new mums and their families can access support in their first language and to stop so many having to travel so far from home to get the essential care they need.

 

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Theatre: ‘after birth’ is returning to the stage for a UK tour

‘after birth’ is a dark comedy deeply rooted in the testimonials of women who have experienced postpartum psychosis. Read on for dates and a review.

"A powerhouse story told with clarity, wit and integrity"
Daily Information

"At the centre of my play is Ann – razor-witted and indomitable – her character is rooted in the funny, resilient women who fearlessly shared their recovery stories with me"
Zena Forster

Dates and tickets

LONDON, Omnibus Theatre 22 - 26 February 2022. Book tickets. 
NORWICH, The Garage - 11 March 2022. Book tickets.
GRAVESEND, The Woodville - 16 March 2022. Book tickets. 
WOLVERHAMPTON, Arena Theatre - 18 March 2022. Book tickets. 
LYME REGIS, Marine Theatre - 24 March 2022. Book tickets.

Please note, the performances on the 15th March 2022 and 23rd March 2022 are closed performances for invited guests.

Watch the trailer

‘after birth’ review

In June 2021, two members of the APP team, Ellie and Jessie, and one of APP’s volunteers, went to see ‘after birth’ at the North Wall theatre, Oxford. ‘After birth’ is set in a Mother and Baby Unit: the main character, Ann, has a bipolar diagnosis and is experiencing postpartum psychosis.

Ellie writes: "‘After birth’ has been written by Zena Forster who worked with APP as part of her research, speaking to several members of APP staff and volunteers with lived experience. The play follows Ann in her experience of postpartum psychosis, and the action we witness on stage is through her eyes, starting in the middle of her paranoid and scary psychotic episode. It depicts her slow journey to recovery, her growing trust of the professionals helping her, her relationships with her mother and partner, and the grief and trauma she experiences. The play also shows her relationship with another patient in the unit, showing the importance of the connection between the two women with lived experience.

As we all know, the impact of experiencing postpartum psychosis is wide reaching and complex and affects so many parts of a person’s life – their self-esteem and well-being, identity, creativity, relationships, relationship with their baby and feelings about becoming a mother. Zena managed to weave all of this complexity, and more, into the play, at the same time creating a believable, likeable, and rounded character at its heart, who we were rooting and feeling for. The fact the audience was with Ann throughout her whole experience of PP and seeing everything through her eyes, meant that the play was a powerful tool for helping the audience to really understand, connect and empathise with the experience of postpartum psychosis, and to truly feel and understand what women go through.

‘after birth’ will tour in 2022, and we highly recommend that you take the opportunity to go and see it when it does. We found it a powerful, accurate and stigma-busting portrayal of PP.”

'after birth' grew out of a collaboration between playwright Zena Forster and researchers at the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit  (NPEU), Oxford University.

Find out more and book tickets here: https://linktr.ee/afterbirth2022

Get in touch with APP

If you would like to talk to the APP team about ‘after birth’, please email app@app-network.org 

 

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New report commissioned by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance

A new report commissioned by the Maternal Mental Health Alliance shows that investing in training for midwives and health visitors, and recruiting more specialist perinatal mental health midwives and health visitors could save the NHS up to £52 million over the next 10 years by ensuring that women receive timely support. This investment could also improve the quality of life for women and their families with an estimated £437 million saving over 10 years on costs to society such as loss of employment due to poor mental health.

Luciana Berger, Chair of the MMHA, says: "It is vital that we make it easier for pregnant women and new mums to access mental health support during routine contacts with their midwives and health visitors."

Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive of Centre for Mental Health, says: "Supporting midwives and health visitors with the training and time to meet women’s mental health needs is a sound investment that could make a difference to many thousands of women and their families.”

At APP, we know how critical the role of midwives and health visitors can be in identifying postpartum psychosis and ensuring that women receive the support they need.

APP have delivered lived experience talks and training to over 13,500 midwives, health visitors and other health professionals, enabling them to have greater confidence in identifying and responding to postpartum psychosis.

APP fully support the recommendation to invest in more midwives and health visitors with specialist skills in perinatal mental health to improve access to timely support for women and families.

Read more about the report here >
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Mother and Baby Unit Pamper Packs

A huge thank you to APP volunteer Gemma for organising pamper packs to be delivered to each of the UKs 22 Mother and Baby Units (MBUs). Gemma delivered pamper packs to the Derby, Nottingham and Stafford MBUs in December, and APPs Peer Support Facilitator Jo Derry helped to send pamper packs to the other MBUs in January.

The packs included make-up items from Boots UK and Soap & Glory to help mums feel special, and leaflets about APP’s peer support for women and families. Gemma organised the packs as a way of giving mums a little bit of “me time” to help their recovery, alongside the invaluable help and treatment the MBUs provide.

Gemma has been a volunteer with APP since 2018, and has also held fundraisers for us. She says “I suffered with postpartum psychosis in 2017.  Through this I gained an understanding of severe anxiety and depression and wanted to train as a peer supporter in 2018 in order to support others through their recovery journey. I also support the Birmingham project through attending the cafe group and really enjoy making a positive impact on others’ recovery. At Christmas 2019 I returned to my own MBU in Stafford and was able to thank staff and provide a small amount of pamper packs. At Christmas 2020, and again in 2021/22 I wanted to reach every MBU in the UK. I feel this is such an important step for mums not only to promote relaxation and self-care, but more importantly to raise awareness of APP, the support available and the ways in which they can get in touch.”

We have received some lovely feedback from MBUs across the UK. The Nottingham MBU said: “Massive thankyou to APP for the very generous gifts for our mums at Christmas. It is very much appreciated.” The East London MBU said: “Thank you so much to APP for donating amazing pamper packs for our lovely mums on the ward”.

Thank you to Gemma and Jo for all your hard work in organising and delivering the packs to the MBUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bulb planting

Last year the Royal Horticultural Society joined forces with BBC’s The One Show to bring the ‘Garden of Hope’ to the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show (21st to 26th September 2021). The garden has now been donated to the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) Rosewood (part of Kent and Medway NHS Social Care Partnership Trust). The beautiful blooms will help create a sanctuary and place of hope for the mothers and babies there. There are more details about the project in this article.

To tie in with this lovely idea, APP volunteer Gemma Vinter has been sourcing donations of bulbs to give to the UK’s 22 MBUs to help brighten up their grounds.

Gemma teamed up with APP’s Peer Support Facilitators Natalie Thompson and Joanne Derry in January to plant bulbs donated by J.Parker’s Dutch Bulbs in the ward gardens at Derby MBU.

Gemma says she hopes that spending time outside with lots of lovely plants and flowers will encourage a little bit of “me time” to help patients’ recovery, alongside the invaluable help and treatment that MBUs provide.

APP would like to thank Gemma, Natalie and Joanne for their hard work and support.


 

 

 

 

 

 

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Would you like to fundraise for APP in 2022?

APP is fortunate to have an amazing group of supporters who raise money for the charity and awareness of postpartum psychosis (PP) through all sorts of fun activities. However, we always need more of you to ensure we can keep operating our vital information and peer support services.

Are you interested in fundraising for APP in 2022? Here are a few ideas of some of the fundraising activities and events you could take part in. It's easy to support us by organising your own activity - be as imaginative as you can!

  • Organise a fundraising event in your local area - from Art sales to Zumba, every £ you raise helps us to help more people affected by PP.
  • Skydive for APP! Would you like to enjoy the exhilarating and unforgettable feeling of a skydive; flying through the clouds from over 10,000 ft at up to 120 mph? Find out more here.
  • Kiltwalk in Scotland! Take part in a fab walking event with three distances to choose from, suitable for walkers of all ages and experiences, in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh. Find out more here.
  • Get sporty! Run, walk, swim or cycle an event and raise sponsorship for APP. Tell us about it here and send us any photos and fundraising links.
  • Are you a  member of a club or society that could hold a fundraising event for APP or let us have a stall at an event where we could collect donations? Let us know.
  • Having a clear out? Sell your unwanted items via Ebay for Charity and donate part or all of the proceeds to APP.
  • Take part in our Miles for Mums and Babies Challenge. Walk, run or cycle 10 miles, 20 miles, 500 miles or even 1000 miles! Each mile reflects the journey mums, babies, partners and families travel to be together, whilst mums receive care in Mother and Baby Units. You can read a news article about the challenges that were completed in 2021 here, which included;

Katherine Paul and her son Harris who walked 3 miles in one day on 6thMay (during Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week).

The team from the MBU at Glasgow’s Leverndale Hospital and colleagues from the Community Perinatal Mental Health Team who challenged themselves to walk 10,000 steps a day throughout May.

Anna Grisedale who had PP in 2015 and 2018, challenged herself to walk 119 miles, which represents the journey she made from Leeds to the MBU in Morpeth with her first born.

Emma Charlton who works at Beadnell MBU in Morpeth. Along with her colleague Katie, Emma walked 161 miles over a 12 week period to raise money for APP.

The team from the new Perinatal Mental Health Service in Ayrshire and Arran challenged themselves to walk 1,400 miles throughout October.

Just a few of the amazing fundraising events that you could sign up for during 2022 are listed below:

Kiltwalks – Scotland

A Scottish piper in front of a crowd of Kiltwalkers

Mass participation walking events in Scottish cities - walks range from a 'Wee Wander' (3-6 miles), a 'Big Stroll' (11 miles) or a 'Mighty Stride' (25 miles) - and kids are welcome to take part too!
Kiltwalkers can raise funds for APP and thanks to the generosity of Sir Tom Hunter and The Hunter Foundation, all funds raised will be topped up by 50%. Sign up on the Kiltwalk website and select APP as your chosen charity!

Aberdeen - 29 May
Dundee - 21 August
Edinburgh - 18 September
Scotland’s Virtual Kiltwalk 7 - 9 October

 

Tough Mudder – Obstacle Races

London West – 21 and 22 May 2022
Scotland – 2 and 3 July 2022
Manchester – 23 and 24 July 2022
Yorkshire – 30 and 31 July 2022
South West – 20 and 21 August 2022
North West – 10 and 11 September 2022
London South – 24 and 25 September

Jurassic Coast Challenge

– 14 to 15 May 2022

 

 

Great Manchester Run

– 15 May 2022

 

 

 

 Edinburgh Marathon Festival

– 28 May 2022 run 10k
– run a half marathon
– run a full marathon

 

RideLondon-Essex100

– 29 May 2022

 

 

 

Great Swim 2022

Great North Swim– Windermere 10-12 June 2022
Great North Swimrun – Windermere 11 June 2022
Great East Swim – Alton Water 18 June 2022
Great East Swimrun – Alton Water 18 June 2022

 

3 Peaks Challenge

(National and Yorkshire) – anytime May to October

 

 

Great Run Events

Great Manchester Run – 22 May 2022
Great North Run – 11 September 2022
Great Bristol Run – 25 September 2022
Great Scottish Run – 2nd October 2022
Great South Run – 15 and 16 October 2022

 

Royal Parks Half Marathon  – 9 October 2022 London

We have filled our three charity places in the 2022 Royal Parks Half marathon which will take place on Sunday 9 October in London. The 13.1 mile route takes in the capital’s world-famous landmarks on closed roads, and four of London’s eight Royal Parks – Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens. If you got a place in the ballot and would like to fundraise for APP, please email fundraising@app-network.org

TCS London Marathon

Ballots have now closed for the 2022 London Marathon and we have a couple of amazing runners signed up.  Keep an eye out for next year's event!

We do still have spaces available in the TCS Virtual London Marathon which takes place on the same day as the in person event (2nd October 2022) but you get 24 hours to complete the distance and people all over the world will be taking part at the same time. Contact us if you're interested in joining the APP London Marathon team this year!

 

Do you live in Northern Ireland? Here are some fundraising events you could sign up to;

Mourne Way 10K Night Walk – 21 June 2022 Kilbroney Park
Coast2Coast Multisport Challenge 14 to 15  May 2022
Causeway Coast Marathon Events – 24 September 2022

The Original Mourne Seven Sevens Walk

– 2 August 2022

 

 

 

If you would like to get involved in fundraising, we'd love to hear from you! Please contact fundraising@app-network.org for more information.

Thank you

 

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