Father of the year dedicated life to children

A man who dedicated his life to raising his young family after his wife died from ovarian cancer three years ago was named father of the year yesterday.

Father of the year dedicated life to children

Aidan Duggan’s wife, Marion, 37, died in Oct 2010, six months after their son, Conor, was delivered at 34 weeks to allow her to start treatment.

Aidan, from Grenagh, Co Cork, said Marion’s pregnancy masked the symptoms of ovarian cancer: a sore back, feeling bloated and going to the loo a lot.

“I want women to be able to recognise the symptoms of ovarian cancer and get treated as soon as possible,” he said, after receiving his award.

As well as caring for his terminally ill wife, Aidan cared for Conor when he was discharged from hospital and his then two-year-old daughter.

Aidan says he spends lots of time with Conor, 3, and Aoife, 5, telling stories about Marion to keep her memory alive.

“I tell stories about Marion nearly every day when I am with the children so it almost feels as if she is there with us,” he said.

Marion’s sister, Annamaria, nominated Aidan, a software engineer, for the award because of the way he coped so bravely.

“We used to live in Newry [Co Down]. Marion’s family are from Tyrone, but I found they were too far away for support so I decided to move back to Cork two years ago so I could have lots of help from my own family.”

The event, held in association with Gaviscon Extra, and hosted by TV3’s Sybil Mulcahy and Martin King in the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin, saw Fionn O’Doherty, 3, from Mallow, Co Cork, receive the Child Hero Award.

Fionn was nominated by his aunt, Michelle Keane, for showing enormous courage after developing a terrifying and life threatening virus that saw him lose the use of his limbs and unable to speak.

Doctors were unsure if Fionn would ever be able to walk or speak again. His parents lived in fear that he would die like his older sister had from a similar virus 13 years previously.

However, the little boy displayed enormous courage. Refusing a walking aid, he decided he was going to learn to walk again on his own.

Fionn, who started pre-school last September, is now a happy and healthy little boy who can walk and run unaided.

The Miracle Baby Award went to Michael Cullen from Navan, Co Meath. His mum, Lorraine, was 11 weeks pregnant when she began to experience bleeding and was taken to hospital where she found she had cervical cancer.

Lorraine underwent two surgical procedures to remove the cancer while pregnant and it was feared Michael would not survive. If that was not enough, 34 weeks into the pregnancy it was discovered during a routine check that Lorraine’s cancer had returned.

She underwent a hysterectomy and Michael was born at 34 weeks and weighing just three kilos.

If it was not for Michael, Lorraine’s cancer could have gone undetected and claimed her life and that was why the little hero was honoured.

www.maternityandinfant.ie

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