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The Buzz > Granddaughter of "Katie Morag" author takes on 24-hour fundraising challenge

Granddaughter of "Katie Morag" author takes on 24-hour fundraising challenge

Kirsty Hedderwick with Dad and Grannie Mairi Hedderwick, author of the Katie Morag books

The granddaughter of an iconic Scottish children's author is taking on an epic fundraising challenge to support stroke survivors in Scotland.

Kirsty Hedderwick, 20 from Beauly, granddaughter of renowned Katie Morag author, Mairi Hedderwick, is braving an incredible challenge to raise vital funds to support her Grannie and other stroke survivors.

On Saturday 27th June, Kirsty will be running a 24-hour ultra-marathon to raise vital funds for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. The charity’s stroke nurse and stroke support volunteer helped Kirsty’s Grannie to rebuild her life after her serious stroke in 2018.

Hard to accept

Two years ago, Scottish treasure, Mairi Hedderwick, 81 from Beauly, suffered a serious stroke. Mairi’s speech and writing was very badly affected. The award-winning author had spent her life inspiring young readers across Scotland with her famous Katie Morag stories; Mairi found it extremely difficult to accept that she could no longer do what she loved.

"I started feeling embarrassed that I couldn’t speak, write or draw. I thought my entire career was over. I spent my life going to schools across Scotland, reading my books to children and talking at public events like book festivals and libraries, and now because of the stroke this was over forever," explains Mairi.

"It was a difficult and very unhappy time. I desperately tried to get better and I had a lot of speech and language therapy, but it was slow progress. I found it hard to accept things wouldn’t get back to normal.

Mairi Hedderwick stroke survivor Katie Morage author with her granddaughters

Beloved "Katie Morag" author Mairi Hedderwick with her granddaughters Kirsty, Elizabeth and Erika.

"I started to feel miserable. I thought to myself maybe I will never speak to people again. I thought about giving up.

"On top of not being able to write, I also couldn’t draw anymore. I used to illustrate all of my books and loved painting too, so that was very hard to accept."

Meeting Mairi

Then Mairi started to receive support from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s stroke nurse and one of their stroke support volunteers, also named Mairi.

"When I first met my stroke volunteer Mairi, I was feeling miserable and ashamed of myself.  Mairi was the first person I remember meeting who made me smile and see past my stroke.  She had actually had a stroke herself too and had dedicated her life to helping others, which I thought was just wonderful," the author remembers.

I know I can still do wonderful things with my life, even if I can’t sit and write about the next Katie Morag adventure.

"I so admired her for what she had chosen to do with her life, her commitment to helping other stroke survivors like me. She helped me accept what had happened and supported me to be positive and not ashamed of my stroke.  She made me realise having a stroke didn’t mean that was the end of my life. 

"I need to accept my writing will not come back and that is hard but by sharing my story I want to help other people going through the same thing. I know I can still do wonderful things with my life, even if I can’t sit and write about the next Katie Morag adventure."

Fundraising for Grannie

When Kirsty saw the huge impact that Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland had on her Grannie’s life and how resilient she had been, she decided to do something by challenging herself to raise vital funds.

Kirsty will be running the 50m circuit around her house in Beauly, continuously for 24 hours. She will be allowing herself short breaks to eat when required and her sisters will be taking over these laps.

"Our Grannie has always taught us the importance of being thankful and that’s what inspired me to do an ultramarathon for Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland," explains Kirsty.

Kirsty Hedderwick in Chest Heart and Stroke tshirt fundraising challenge

Kirsty is taking on the fundraising challenge to support stroke survivors in Scotland like her Grannie.

"I know how important their stroke nurses and volunteers are and their support for my Grannie is what inspired me to run this ultramarathon. My Grannie is such a resilient person, and this will keep me running through the night. I also wanted to honour everyone who has been stuck at home or those who, like my Grannie, have been getting through lockdown on their own.

"I’ve only ever done a half marathon before now, so running for twenty-four hours nonstop in a loop around my house will definitely be a lot to take on! I’m feeling excited and nervous about it but I’m determined to do my supporters proud. Seeing Grannie and my family cheering me on at the finish line will be an amazing feeling.

"I’ve already raised four times my fundraising target overnight since setting up my Just Giving page and it’s been totally overwhelming.  I really hope to raise as much as I can for a charity that’s so special to me, my Grannie and our whole family."

Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, adds: "Kirsty and Mairi are the embodiment of no life half lived. They are both an inspiration and we’re delighted Kirsty is braving this ultra-marathon to raise vital funds to help the services that have been so important to her Grannie.

"It’s only through donations that we can help people like Mairi rebuild their lives after stroke and live their lives to the full. We want to continue to be here for stroke survivors who need our help, now and in the future. Please get behind Kirsty and Mairi and give what you can today."

The family are urging all Katie Morag fans to get behind Kirsty's fundraising challenge and donate to the charity that helped bring Mairi’s joy back. Please donate whatever you can to make sure our vital services are here to support stroke survivors like Mairi: justgiving.com/fundraising/kirsty-hedderwick-chss

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