THE mum of a Ballyvarley teenager fatally injured after he was knocked down while waiting for his schoolbus four years ago is planning an event this weekend to mark his 19th birthday.
Mark Colgan (14) passed away on 20 March 2014 after he was knocked down by a van outside his home on the Scarva Road outside Banbridge.
He was the son of Felicity and Mervyn and much-loved younger brother of Paul and Aideen.
Mark’s mother, Felicity spoke to The Outlook about Mark ahead of a special fundraiser this Saturday (8 December) to mark his 19th birthday.
The Colgan family have organised a Christmas coffee morning in Ballyvarley Hall with all proceeds going to the Head Injury Support, Newry which supports both head injury survivors and carers.
Mark was a popular pupil of St Colman’s College, Newry and a talented football player and hurler for Aghaderg-Ballyvarley GAA club.
Felicity bravely recalled the morning when her life changed forever.
“It was an awful stormy morning with heavy, heavy rain and Mark was at the bus stop across the road from our house.
“I was downstairs pulling curtains and getting ready for the day and I shouted across at him that I would take him to Scarva where his connecting bus would go from.
“He went to come across the road again and that was when he was hit by a van. I reckon he died instantly, although he was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital for treatment at the time.”
Felicity said she takes comfort from the fact Mark had a “very happy life” during his short 14 years.
“He had lots of friends and just loved life and was so much fun. It is because of this that I like to celebrate his life.
“I feel so blessed that we had Mark for those 14 years although another few years with him would have been lovely,” she added.
Since his untimely passing, Mark’s parents have raised funds for various charities in memory of their son.
This year, money raised from Saturday’s coffee morning will go towards a charity close to Felicity’s heart.
She said: “Just this summer past was a very difficult one for our family as Mark would have been finishing St Colman’s and heading off to university and finding his accommodation in halls. It was very difficult knowing all his wee friends were doing that and he wasn’t.
“I just thought I had to do something to keep going and I went up to the Head Injury Support in Newry and started to volunteer in the summer, it was such a privilege.
“They also hold a bereavement counselling session for parents on the second Wednesday of each month. I attend and I have made friends from it, it has been a great support to me.”
Felicity says she wanted to give back to the unit after they provided her with such a positive volunteering experience in the summer.
She added: “I really enjoyed going to it there are outreach centres in Armagh, Craigavon and Dungannon and I had the privilege of going to them too.
“Volunteering was a very positive experience for me and I have made lots of new friends. For people reading this and who may be going through grief or a similar experience I want to reach out and tell them that things do get better in time.
“The first Christmas after we lost Mark I hosted a big breakfast and we had nearly 1,000 people at that. Sometimes I like to think he is looking down at me wondering what I am doing, but it is all for him and it is all in his memory.”
Felicity and Mervyn also became grandparents for the first time to little Padraig.
“Mark would have loved him so much and he has brought so much happiness into our family. We like to think Mark is looking out for Padraig.”
Felicity has extended an open invitation to everyone ahead of the coffee morning this Saturday (8 December) which will begin at 10am.
She added: “When we go out and ask for help with fundraising or events we are putting on, people are so eager to help us and nothing is ever too much for them.
“Mark’s birthday is actually on 14 December and I decided to have the coffee morning the week before because on the day of his birthday we are going down to a comedy play in the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.
“We have done so for the last few years since Mark’s death in order to celebrate his life and the day he gained his wings.”