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Lucy is a very chatty and talkative little girl she will be 4 in May, and left the Mencap’s Children’s Centre last June. When Lucy was nine months old she was diagnosed with William’s Syndrome a rare development disorder. Laura Copeland is Lucy’s Mum and she tells us their story.

When Lucy was nine weeks old, Laura noticed her daughter wasn’t feeding and she discovered she had a heart murmur. She took her daughter to a cardiologist and a week later Lucy was diagnosed with Williams syndrome, a rare developmental disorder.

“That week was the longest week of my life,” Laura said. “Once we got the diagnosis for Lucy, I was worried and anxious and just didn’t know what the future was going to bring.”

When Lucy was six months old, a therapist told Laura about Mencap’s Children’s Centre, a nursery for 2-to 3-year-olds with a learning disability, autism or developmental delay.

Lucy started at Mencap at age two and since then, Laura has seen amazing improvements. She said:

“When Lucy started at Mencap, her skills were limited. All she could say was ‘Mummy’, ‘Daddy’ and ‘Hiya’. She also couldn’t walk. After a year at Mencap’s nursery, however, Lucy is an absolute chatterbox and can walk freely on her own. She made great friends at the nursery and forged a strong bond with her key worker, Lynsey Dempster, whose help has been invaluable.

“Lucy is now at a different school, but the year she spent at Mencap was vital. It was crucial for my husband and me as well. The Mencap team advised us on any problems we shared and they introduced us to other parents of children with a learning disability.

“I encourage anyone who is thinking of fundraising for Mencap for the Marathon this year to do so. The team at Mencap is excellent and their work with Lucy transformed her life and ours. Lucy can now communicate ‘I love you, Mummy’. I can’t thank Mencap enough for believing in Lucy and knowing what she was capable of.”

More than 52 children attend Mencap’s Children’s Centre and even more children and young people use additional services at the Mencap Centre, including after school clubs and holiday play schemes. The Mencap Children’s Centre works in partnership with the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.   
Margaret Kelly, Director, Mencap Northern Ireland said: 

“We would like to thank the Copeland family for sharing their story. Lucy Copeland is one example of the wonderful children who spend time at our Children’s Centre.

“To reach more children like Lucy, we urgently need funds to keep crucial programmes running and help us launch new initiatives to reach as many families as we can across Northern Ireland. Later this year, we will launch our Early Years Service, to offer bespoke guidance to families like the Copelands with a child diagnosed with a learning disability.
“We encourage everyone to sign up to #StepUp4Mencap at the 2017 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon. Whether you’re raising money and training for the full marathon, the Fun Run or the team relay, all donations will help children like Lucy have the best chance at a full life.”

The deadline to sign up for the 2017 Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is Friday 14 April 2017. To register in aid of Mencap, email, call 02890 691 351 or visit

#StepUp4Mencap and Sign up for 2017 Belfast City Marathon
Marathon Run

The Full 26.2 mile marathon challenge.

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Wheel Chair Marathon

The wheelchair race commences one minute before the main marathon event. The Marathon Organisers, working with DSNI and Disability Action have developed the route suitable for wheel chair users.

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Team Relay Challeng

This challenge is for teams of 2-5 people, running the same course as the Main Marathon Race.

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8 Mile Walk

For those who think the marathon is a bit of a stretch, but who want to put their fitness to the test, try out the marathon walk – you’ll never walk alone!

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Fun Run for Adults

There’s always been a great sense of fun and community at the Belfast City Marathon and the Fun Run is an awesome way to catch the vibe – silly costumes are not compulsory, but they really do help!

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Fun Run for Children

There’s always been a great sense of fun and community at the Belfast City Marathon and the Fun Run is an awesome way to catch the vibe – silly costumes are not compulsory, but they really do help!

Sign Up Now