Community hero

Mamie Clarke Community Hero January 2018

Mamie Clarke Finn Valley Centre Community Hero January 2018

We kick off 2018 with Mamie Clarke as our Community Hero.  Originally Doherty from Porthall, Lifford, she is one of a family of six siblings, Margaret R.I.P., Johnny, Patrick, Michael and Tommy R.I.P. She now lives in Moyita, Bridge Street Lifford with her husband James.

Mamie and James celebrated 51 years of marriage last August and have a family of five, two boys and three girls, Trevor, Kieran, Siobhan, Lorraine and Rosaleen. The couple have grandchildren and great grandchildren which they adore and look forward to them visiting their home.

Mamie and James also reared Paul and Charmaine Simpson the children of their niece, Bernadette  who tragically died twenty-seven years ago at the young age of 32 to cancer.  This was a great loss to Mamie and was to be one of the catalysts in the driving force behind her lifetime of fundraising.

Mamie Clarke Community Hero

Mamie pictured while on a charity cycle in Spain

Cycling for Charity

Both Mamie and James loved taking their children cycling and through this they became involved in the Cooperation North Cycle from Belfast to Dublin which takes in 100 miles a day. They completed this cycle about six times with the family when they were younger and have raised over €3,000 over the years for this particular event.

It was through this early interest in cycling and raising money for charity that Mamie, and indeed all her family became involved in other cycles which were being run for a range of different charities over the years.  The charities who have benefited from these efforts are Concern, St. Luke’s Hospital, the Peru Missions, the Irish Heart Foundation, Brain injury research and the National Council for the Blind, the latter being a charity which is very close to Mamie’s heart due to her late sister Margaret who developed a degenerative eye condition which would result in time, in her total loss of sight. Through her fundraising she has raised over €64.000 for the National Council for the Blind and the Brain Injury Charity.

Facing the Future in the Face of Great Difficulties 

As if this wasn’t enough, tragedy would again befall the family when Margaret died suddenly in her early sixties in February 1990 and on the same year her niece Bernadette, and the late Margaret’s daughter also died on December 4th of the same year. For some, these tragedies would mean that life would be a struggle and indeed it was no different for Mamie however she channelled that anguish into her charity work for the betterment of all.

In spite of all her difficulties and with her own family, her grandniece and grandnephew to raise, Mamie continued her fundraising cycles which to date have taken her all over Ireland and the U.K. and to such far flung shores as Australia, France Thailand, Majorca and Mexico collectively enabling her to raise in the region of €50,000 for various charities listed above.  These have not taken place without great difficulty and risk, indeed Mamie very nearly lost her life while completing a cycle in Thailand when she was involved in an horrific accident on a descent down a mountain and the only thing saving her from certain death and a drop of a few hundred feet were a few branches.  The result of this accident was that she lost the sight in her left eye and didn’t regain until six months later after her recuperation.  Thankfully she did regain her sight and true to style she didn’t let it stop her.

Mamie at Everest Base Camp with her Sherpa guide

Mountain Climbing

Mamie Clarke Community Hero 2018

Mamie & son Kieran on the slopes of Kilimanjaro

Being the all action woman that she is, it’s no surprise that Mamie would take on other types of challenges such as mountain climbing, walks and treks and endurance challenges and through these she has raised in the region of €175,540.  In these endeavours she would also add to the list of charities which benefited from her efforts such as the Multiple Sclerosis Society Ireland, Cerebral Palsy Ireland, The Irish Wheelchair Association and Breast Cancer Research.

In just one of these activities, mountain climbing, Mamie has climbed, Croaghconnellagh Mountain, Co. Donegal; Knocknareagh, Co. Sligo; Glengalliagh, Co Clare; Slieve Donard, Co Down; Croagh Patrick, Co Mayo; Carrauntoohil, Co Kerry; Benbulbin, Co Sligo, and that’s only in Ireland. In the U.K. she has climbed Ben Nevis in Scotland and Mount Snowden in Wales but it is her antics abroad that really makes the mind boggle as she has climbed mountains in Poland, Malaysia, Tibet, United Arab Emirates, the Andes in Peru, the northern hills of Thailand, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa and the mother of them all, climbing to the base camp of Mount Everest in the Himalayan Challenge in Nepal. Her total figure raised just for mountain climbing is €52,250

Taking a well deserved rest on a mountain trek

Walks, Hikes and Treks

On the slopes of Everest

The many walks, hikes and treks that she has done have also taken Mamie across many countries and vast wildernesses. In Ireland she has completed challenges in the counties Clare, Donegal, Mayo, Wicklow and Offaly.  The overseas destinations of the Holy Land which she done twice, Santiago de Compostela in Spain which she has done three times raising 7,500, the New York Challenge, completed four times raising €31,500 in total, the Loire in France and the Nile challenge in Egypt raising 7,000 between both challenges.

Further afield she has completed walks in Estonia, Los Angeles and India challenges, the Great Brazilian Endurance Challenge in the Amazon, the Navajo Trail in America and the Great Wall of China which she done twice in 1994 and again in 2005.  Collectively she has raised 70,100 over these challenges and overall in all her treks, walks and hikes has raised €123,290.

 Fundraising for Breast Cancer

Mamie clarke Community Hero January 2018

Paul, Mamie, Kieran & Jack presenting a cheque for €10,000 to Joe Duffy Galway Cancer Hospital

Mamie is as active at home as she is abroad and she can be seen at weekends outside McElhinney’s Stores in Ballybofey in all weathers, collecting for Breast Cancer which goes towards Galway University Hospital with her friend Jack McLaughlin who hails originally from Porthall, Lifford and who now lives in Strabane.  Indeed she keeps very good company, as Jack himself is a very active fundraiser for many charities and has accompanied Mamie on many of her fundraising trips. The Breast Cancer collection outside McElhinney’s is now Mamie’s main fundraising activity along with climbing Mount Errigal once a year. To put this effort in context, on Tuesday December 5th 2017, during the McElhinney’s annual Christmas Sale Shopping Day, Mamie stood from 9am to 9pm collecting for Breast Cancer with only one twenty minute break for lunch, and she done it with a smile.  Now how’s that for a mammoth effort!  There are not many of us that would be prepared to stand in the cold for that length of time but Mamie does this every Saturday.  So if you feel that you would like to contribute to her work then stop off with herself or Jack and give what you can.  This tradition of helping others is being carried on with her late niece Bernadette’s son, Paul, who also runs draws in venues around Donegal and her son Kieran who helps out by raising funds for Mamie’s charities.

Family Support

As with any person who has achieved what Mamie has, she does so with the full backing of her family who also partake in many of the activities, and her husband James who is always there and 100% behind her.  This is very much a family effort and Mamie stresses this.

What an example Mamie has set her family over the years it is no wonder that they are all behind her charity work, having grown up with it as a normal part of life.  Indeed her example is one which we could all use, although realistically there are not many of us will cover the ground that Mamie has covered but if we aspire to do some good for someone in our lives then we are following the example that Mamie and indeed our previous heroes have set.

Future Plans

Mamie hopes to have her health so she can keep on fundraising for Breast Cancer into the future and take on whatever challenge she can to raise money for the charity and generally just enjoy life, the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren which she is immensely proud of.  Herself, Jack McLaughlin, her husband James and all the family should be commended for what they have given in terms of money, time and sacrifice for their various charities. She has travelled with so many on her many challenges and can say that she has friends in every county in Ireland.

On a last note, for those of you who are active and like to challenge yourselves, and those of you who may have completed some challenges in the past, on reading this can you imagine the challenge of taking on what Mamie has achieved and adding that to the bucket list.   I’m sure I’d get no arguments when I say the Mamie Clarke Challenge would be right up there with the best of them!