Heysham schoolgirl to take on triathlon to make kids smile

Niamh Barnsley-Ryan at Lancaster Loyne School, where she visited to find out what play equipment the kids there wanted to see in the park.
Niamh Barnsley-Ryan at Lancaster Loyne School, where she visited to find out what play equipment the kids there wanted to see in the park.

A nine-year-old has set herself a gruelling challenge of swimming, running and cycling 874-miles for children’s charities – because she wants to “make kids smile.”

Niamh Barnsley-Ryan, of Heysham, who only started running and cycling in the summer, decided to take on the year-long challenge of completing the distance of Land’s End to John O’Groats within a year after hearing her local park was to close.

She started her challenge on October 1 – the day that Lancaster City Council closed the gates on Bay Cottage Play Area, on the promenade in the village.

Niamh’s challenge will see her raise cash for the Friends of Bay Cottage Play Area, which needs £200,000 to build a new play park after council coffers to maintain the park ran dry.

She is hoping to raise £1,000 to buy a piece of play equipment for disabled children.

But the youngster, a pupil at St Peter’s CofE School, is also raising money for Make A Wish Foundation to help seriously ill children fulfil their dreams.

Niamh said: “When I heard that the park was closing, I thought it was really sad as me and my friends love playing there.

“I will be doing what I love doing and helping other children at the same time. I just want to help make kids smile.

“I’d heard about people doing the Land’s End to John O’Groats for charity and it’s a long way, my mum and dad thought I was bonkers at first, but then said if I wanted to do it, it would be best to do it over a year.

“I’m so excited. It will be hard work but hopefully lots of fun,” adds the youngster, who dreams of being an athlete when she’s older.

She will need to rack up around 16 miles per week, but mum Rachel says the family will help her along.

Niamh’s journey can be followed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MyTri4Kids