Dromore’s Heather set to Lap the Lough

A Dromore woman is part of a team that will be making a Lap of the Lough to raise funds for Reach Mentoring.

Heather McDowell is joining at least nine others to make the 90 mile cycle around Lough Neagh with the aim of encouraging 90 people to donate £10 per month to Reach to continue their programme.

Reach is a faith based organisation that mentors young people toward their full potential.

It works alongside a schools pastoral care system by providing volunteer mentors to young people who are in need of additional support. It particularly focuses on young people at risk of exclusion.#

Heather works as an English teacher at Lurgan College and explained how Reach is a ‘valuable asset to schools’.

“I use them a lot in school,” she said. “With people who are struggling to engage in learning and come in to school it helps to set them up to be mentored by someone who isn’t an educator.

“They can help pupils work through any issues. They are offering us a free service and I wanted to give something back.”

Reach Mentoring started out in Lurgan Junior High School but is seeking to expand its work into the entire Craigavon area and as such require additional funding.

Heather has been putting in the hard yards in preparation for her cycle around Lough Neagh.

She said: “I was so unfit it was ridiculous. I started training a wee bit in January and now I’m training every day of the week. I’ve joined a running club in Donaghcloney as well.

“My cousin, who competes in triathalons, lent me a bike and my neighbour lent me his turbo training bike.

“I was miserable at the start. I was used to just lying watching TV every night so I was sore and hungry all the time when I started training but I’ve got into the rhythm of it now.”

Heather has been running a blog to highlight the good cause they are raising money for and to keep track of her training.

“I guess the blog started because I hate asking people for money,” she said.

“I was putting it out there without asking anyone and I’ve had a really good response. It has really shown me the true geniorosity of people.”

The Reach team will be taking part in the Lap of the Lough on Monday 2 May.

Anyone wishing to donate can set up a standing order through your online banking using the following details: Sort Code 93-81-14, Acc:18955041. Simply reference Reach Cycle.