A heartbreaking incident during lockdown inspired Trim Garda to organise charity event

A caring Garda from Trim is taking on the challenge of cycling 99km through nine villages in full uniform this Sunday to raise money for a charity that offers support to families affected by the death of a baby.

Edel Dugdale (40) came up with the idea for ‘Trim's Emergency Services 999 Challenge’ that will see frontline workers from the area take on the 99km run through rural communities in the area after encountering a heartbreaking situation while working on the frontline at the start of lockdown.

Both Trim Garda Station and Trim Fire Station will take part in the event and are hoping that the communities that they serve will come out in support of the local frontline heroes and donate to Féileacáin (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Association of Ireland – SANDAI).

The Garda originally from Delvin who is attached to the community policing unit at Trim Garda Station was inspired to organise the event when she stopped a family at a checkpoint who explained they were on their way to bury their baby who had just passed away.

Edel Dugdale organised Trim's Emergency Services 999 Challenge’

Speaking about the harrowing moment, Edel said:

“From working on a checkpoint over the lockdown, I had met a family who had a recent bereavement and were going through the checkpoint with their baby to bring them to the graveyard to bury him/her.

“It hit me at the stage, the loneliness and isolation with COVID that they must have felt and it was through that that I did some research to see what services are out there and that’s when I came across Fèileacàin.

“I didn’t know that family from Adam that I stopped and I still don’t know who they are but it really just pulled at my heart strings.

“I felt quite emotional, it felt so quiet and so un-Irish because as a nation we are used to rallying around people, calling over and supporting them in their time of need and they couldn’t have any of that because of COVID so it made me want to do something for families like that.”

Edel said that they decided to cover a vast area on their travels to let all of the communities know that ‘their local emergency services are here for them.’

“We just didn’t want to pick Trim as the only place to cover because we do service the likes of Enfield, Ballivor and Kildalkey and we don’t want people of those communities to feel like we have forgotten about them, that’s why we are trying to pass through all of the communities that we serve.

All funds raised will go to Féileacáin (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Association of Ireland – SANDAI).

“We want them to know that we are here for them through COVID but at all stages through our careers.

“We will be starting in Enfield village at 6am heading towards Longwood arriving at 7am then it’s on into Ballivor via St Oliver’s Road after 8.30.

“From there we go through Kildalkey village at 09.30, passing through Dunderry at 10.30 and into Robinstown before going into Kilmessan at 12.30.

“From there we go via Kiltale into Summerhill onto Rathmoylon, Laracor Cross, Scurlogstown, Bective, in the Navan Road and into Trim town for approximately 17.40 and finishing at Trim Garda Station.”

Not only is the Trim Gard taking on the challenge of cycling 99km, she is also going to be suited and booted in full uniform as she explains.

“Just because I do know families who go through the services of Fèileacàin have such challenges to overcome, the least that I could do was to take on some extra little challenge to raise funds so that it wasn’t just an easy process for us to do so that’s why I’m going to wear full uniform.”

Trim and surrounding areas where ‘hugely supportive’ to the Gardaí as they carried out their role during lockdown according to the Delvin native.

The frontline staff out in force in Trim

“We have had a great response from the community when we have been at checkpoints, most people gave us one hundred percent support when we had to look for paperwork or inquire where they were going, they were all on board.

“I was covering the areas of community policing and working with the vulnerable and elderly and ensuring that everybody in rural communities were looked after.

“We really hope that people in the communities can come out and support us this Sunday, wave a flag or give us the beep of a horn as we are passing though.

“We will have purple t-shirts on us from the charity and if anyone has a name of a child that they would like us to run for we can put their name on the t-shirts, they can just contact Trim Garda Station.”