Fundraising Ruth named ‘Mum of the Year’

Ireland’s number one mum is Ruth Russell, whose brave little girl Alanna died last December.

Her husband Keith and daughter, Fate, nominated Ruth for the title in the Woman’s Way Mum of the Year as they felt she did not get enough praise for her charity work.

Ruth, who has three surviving children, was told she won the top award for her dedication to fundraising and caring for her daughter.

Alanna from Navan, Co Meath, died unexpectedly at home on December 13 last year, leaving her family and the community heartbroken.

Just eight years old when she died, Alanna was born with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, with no speech or the use of her arms and legs.

She also had impaired vision and epilepsy.

A twin in pregnancy, Alanna was born nine weeks premature. Her sister Isabelle died shortly before birth.

Alanna became the youngest-ever competitor in the Dublin City Marathon last year when her dad pushed her along the gruelling circuit in her wheelchair.

Last year, Ruth and Keith helped raise €70,000 for the Meadows Respite Care Home in Navan where their daughter had been cared for.

Ruth has continued to fundraise and has organised the Forever 8 memorial run later this month to remember Alanna.

“Mammies do what mammies do, don’t they? And they don’t really look for awards,” said Ruth.

“I tell you something, you learn more from your children than you can ever teach them. You really do.”


“You try to teach them but they’re actually teaching you and you don’t even realise it.”

About 1,000 are expected to turn up for the memorial run for Alanna.

“It’s not to raise funds. It’s for everyone to come together and just remember her,” said Ruth.

“Alanna did so much good during her short life. She raised €80,000 for us to adapt our house for her.

“After that, we decided to give back to our little community in Navan and raised another €70,000 for a wheelchair-accessible bus.”

The bus will be presented to the Meadows Respite Centre on the day of the memorial run and Ruth said it was such a pity Alanna would not be there to see it.

Publisher Norah Casey said Ruth was an incredible woman as well as a loving mother.

“You just got the sense that the Russell household was a very happy one. Alanna had a short life but Ruth made sure it was as beautiful as possible,” she said.

Inspirational Mum of the Year Heather McGrath, Co Offaly
Inspirational Mum of the Year Heather McGrath, Co Offaly

Meanwhile, Maureen Quinn from Dublin won the title of ‘Gamechanger Mum’. In the 1990s, the mum-of-two challenged the eligibility of single people to adopt and paved the way for others to follow.

“I’ve only ever wanted to be a mammy. I wasn’t eligible but I thought that’s not right,” she said.

Broadcaster and adventurer Nancy Ashmawy received the Celebrity Mum Award, voted by readers of the Woman’s Way magazine.

“It’s unreal really because I’m just a very ordinary mother; that’s how I see myself,” she said.

“I think mammies are mammies, whether you’re an Italian mammy or an Irish mammy.”


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