A Balloon to Remember, in memory of Irish Children who have passed away,

is launched by Anam Cara Ambassador Miriam O’Callaghan

 58% of Irish people directly know someone who has experienced the loss of a child.*

 Tuesday 5thOctober 2010: saw Anam Cara Ambassador Miriam O’Callaghan launch the poignant awareness campaign A Balloon to Remember, an initiative created by Anam Cara in memory of every child, young or old, who has passed away in Ireland.  The campaign aims to highlight the invaluable and unique support Anam Cara provides bereaved parents as it is parents who have themselves lost a child running almost every aspect of the organisation.  The campaign also hopes to raise funds to further develop and extend services to families across the entire country.

When it occurs, the effect of the death of a child is felt far and wide in every community in Ireland.  In a recent survey conducted on behalf Anam Cara, 58% of Irish people directly know a family that has experienced the unimaginable loss of a child* highlighting the ever growing need for support services in this area.   Anam Cara is a national voluntary support group set up by bereaved parents who provide support, understanding and a forum for families who have experienced the death of a child, regardless of age or circumstance of death.  Set up in early 2008, it was the inspiration of a few parents who had each suffered the unbearable loss of a child and found themselves becoming their own support network. The value of peer support at such a terrible time was identified.  From these first few meetings it was evident a formal network of this kind was required and thus Anam Cara was founded.

Anam Cara Ambassador, Miriam O’Callaghan has seen firsthand the devastation the death of a family member can have on parents and siblings having lost her sister Anne in 1995, “Anam Cara provides an invaluable service to anyone who has suffered the loss of a child or a sibling. Following the initial days and months after the tragic death of a family member, when support unintentionally slips away due to everyday life taking over for others, bereaved families still feel the pain and loss each and every morning they wake up and remember. Anam Cara is the service that remembers with you, while also providing a support network to help you through the tough times.”

Sharon Vard, CEO of Anam Cara and bereaved parent noted “Currently the families of those who have been ill usually hear about  Anam Cara through their hospital.  For those whose child dies a sudden death there is often no formal support and they don’t know that Anam Cara is there.  With this campaign we aim to raise awareness amongst the general public of Anam Cara and how we can support parents in their grief.

Every year in Ireland approximately 1,950 families lose a son or daughter. This figure and the huge response we have received in just a couple of years clearly demonstrates the need for our service. An additional aim of the campaign is to raise funds to continue our growth throughout Ireland so that all these families can benefit from our services locally. “

Since its foundation in 2008, Anam Cara has connected with and provided services for over 1,545 parents through its parent-to parent meetings, family events, professional talks and online forum all of which are provided to families free of charge.  Many more have accessed information through  Anam Cara is providing a vital service which is striving to deliver to all areas of the country and to all Irish families dealing with such a devastating loss.

Research has shown that 57% of the Irish adult population is not spontaneously aware of support organisations for the bereaved*.  This campaign aims to create awareness of the valuable Anam Cara support services available to bereaved parents and families.

For most people in Ireland, the loss of a child is impossible to understand.  But showing support for the bereaved parents is simple.  The public will be able to buy A Balloon to Remember pin from various outlets including McCabe’s Pharmacies, Smyth’s Toy Stores, Eddie Rockets Diners, Grafton Barbers, Garvey Group and other local retail outlets.  To find out more  or to donate visit the website

This national campaign has been kindly supported by Bord Gáis Energy and will run from 1stOctober through to 2ndNovember.  Anam Cara is also an awardee of the Arthur Guinness Fund for bringing about social change in Ireland around the support of families after the death of a child.

The Balloon to Remember campaign culminates with a balloon release in memory of all children (young and old) who have died.  This takes place on 2ndNovember – All Souls’ Day traditionally marked as a day to remember our loved ones – in Lloyd Park in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

Friends and family of those who have died can make a dedication for them in the Anam Cara Book of Remembrance on the website   Last year’s campaign saw almost 1,200 heartfelt dedications in this book.

For further information on Anam Cara go to www.anamcara.ieor email

*  Source:  Millward Brown Lansdowne F2F Omnibus Survey August 2010