Aunties raise money in memory of Baby Grace

Two Derry aunties have raised more than £4,000 in memory of their little niece Grace - who sadly passed away last June after contracting the preventable infection Group b Strep, writes Erin Hutcheon.

Little Grace Grimes McGroarty was just three weeks old when she passed away last June.

Her devastated parents Shauna and Stephen McGroarty who have since moved to Australia have appealed for more to be done to stop other families suffering similar heartbreak.

Yesterday Grace’s aunts Charlene Grimes and Cathy McClafferty met with Derry’s Mayor Colum Eastwood to tell him about a sponsored walk they held in the little girl’s memory.

The walk, which took place on June 13, was held to acknowledge the first anniversary of Grace’s death and to mark the immense impact little Grace made to the lives of her parents, Shauna and Stephen, her grandparents, uncles, aunts and many family friends during her short time with them.

At just two weeks old Grace became ill from Group strep b, an infection which is the most common cause of life threatening illness in newborn babies. She sadly passed away one week later from complications.

Her mum Shauna said: “It was the worst week of our lives, we should have been planning her christening, not her funeral.”

Shauna called for more information about the infection to be given to women during pregnancy.

“I think that it is important to present all the facts to enable mothers to make informed decisions and choices with regards their pregnancy, ensuring they understand the potential risks associated with labour and childbirth, and the importance of ensuring measures are in place to prevent the child from picking up the infection from other sources,” she said.

Last month more than 100 people took part in the Grace McGroarty Sponsored Walk of the city’s two bridges and raised over 4,000 for the Group b Strep Support (GBSS) charity organisation who provide essential support to those affected by GBS. The charity also strives to raise more awareness about the GBS infection and actively campaigns to make testing for the GBS bacteria standard antenatal practice.

Both Charlene and Cathy were determined to mark Grace’s anniversary in a manner that would raise more awareness about Group b Strep and now plan to make the sponsored walk an annual event.

“We were overwhelmed by the huge amount of support that we received, both in the weeks leading up to the walk and on the day itself. It was a huge comfort to Grace’s parents, Shauna and Stephen, to know that so many people were remembering their daughter’s life in such a positive way,” they said. “We hope that in making the Grace McGroarty Sponsored Walk an annual event, we can continue to raise awareness about Group b Strep so that other women can make informed decisions and choices with regards to their pregnancy.”

For more information about Group b Strep, visit the GBS Support Charity Organisation on www.gbss.org.uk