A Derry brother and sister have been honoured with a major award after taking over the care of their younger siblings following the deaths of both their parents.
Kiera Coyle and her brother Kieran stepped in following the death of their mother Martina due to illness in 2009, helping their father Fergal to look after two younger siblings Colm (16) and Caoimhe (12).
Then, tragically in September 2012 the children’s father died from renal failure.
Twenty-seven-year old Kiera, who has a five year-old son Riley, went through the High Court to secure a guardianship agreement for her younger brother and sister to avoid a situation where they would be taken into care. For nine months, Kiera, her son and her younger brother and sister shared a two bedroom flat while they waited to be rehoused.
Their efforts were recognised by Jacqueline Williamson at the Big Lottery funded Kinship Care who nominated Kiera for the Funeral Services NI Voluntary Carer of the Year Award which she won, together with her brother Kieran at a ceremony in Belfast on Wednesday.
Speaking to the Journal Kiera said: “I did what I had to do and Caoimhe and Colm were so much younger than me when our parents died so as far as I was concerned, they were in a worse position. It was really difficult at the beginning but we’ve pulled together and come through it.”
Kiera, Kieran and their brother Kevin now work together to look after their younger siblings while also holding down their full and part time jobs.
Read Kiera’s full story and how she managed to keep her family together in this weekend’s Sunday’s Journal.