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Claire Forde

Annie Forde Sheridan (on the left in the photo) was  looking forward to her wedding which her mum Claire (on the right) was helping to organise when tragedy struck.

Claire Forde 62 was excited about her daughter Annie’s upcoming wedding. Already postponed due to COVID it was all systems go and rescheduled for June this year with Claire helping Annie plan everything from the menu to the music. Tragically, however, Claire would never get to attend the wedding she had so meticulously helped to plan.

On the 31st of January, this year Annie and Claire from Edenderry Co Offaly were at the gym together when Claire started to feel unwell so she decided to rest in the car for a moment.

Claire was suffering from pain and tightness in her chest and thought it was just indigestion. As her symptoms worsened and the tightness in her chest increased Annie insisted on driving her mum to the Emergency Department of the local hospital. When they got there, it was discovered that Claire’s blood pressure was dangerously high and she was having a serious heart attack.

Due to the COVID pandemic, Annie was asked to wait outside so she sat in her car and contacted her father Conleth, and her siblings Emma, Amy, and Shane who were all anxiously waiting for news.

Claire was transferred to St James’s Hospital in Dublin by ambulance where she underwent a procedure to have stents inserted into her heart.

Annie went home to pack a bag for her mum and then drove to Dublin to be with her when she arrived at St James’s. Her father and brother also met her in the hospital and they went together to see Claire.

“She was fine…she was full of chat…she just wanted to go home to her own bed,” Annie recalled.

" I abandoned my car in the middle of St James’s and I ran ….I ran down the longest hallway I have ever run down in my life and I got there.”

Annie Forde Sheridan

After a while, however, Claire began to feel very unwell so the staff told the family she needed to rest. They were given a phone number to call the next morning for an update on when she could be transferred back to the local hospital.

Annie was on the road home to Edenderry when she got a phone call that was to change everything.

“I was well over an hour from St James’s when my phone rang. I knew it was a Dublin number so I pulled in to answer it….it was the hospital they said you need to come back to your mum we think she has had a stroke,” Annie explained.

Annie turned the car around and drove back to Dublin as fast as she could to be with her mum.

“I needed to get there ….I abandoned my car in the middle of St James’s and I ran ….I ran down the longest hallway I have ever run down in my life and I got there.”

Annie was told that sadly her mum wasn’t going to survive.

On the 01st of February 2022, just one day after being at the gym with Annie, Claire died surrounded by her loving family.

“She was a carer she cared for everyone else ….to the extent where she just neglected herself.”

Annie Forde Sheridan

Just months after her mother’s death Annie was due to marry her fiancé Johnny in June but without her mum, by her side, Claire was reticent to go ahead with the wedding.

“I didn’t want the wedding to go ahead I couldn’t picture it without her…mam was my best friend we did everything together…mam was involved in every single step down to the menus everything, the music, the songs, everything was mam. I just couldn’t picture it without her.”

However, Annie’s father Conleth encouraged his daughter to go ahead with the big day as the family needed something to celebrate and look forward to.

Annie and Johnny got married in Bulgaria and although it was a very emotional time they knew that Claire was with them in spirit and in the details of the wedding she has so carefully planned with Annie.

Instead of wedding favours Annie and Johnny made a donation to the Irish Heart Foundation in memory of Claire and over the past few months the family, driven by Conleth’s passion for the cause, has also fundraised more than €7,000 for the charity.

“It’s so important the work the Irish Heart Foundation does because it could save someone’s life,” Annie said.

Claire was Annie’s mum and she was also her best friend. She was also someone who Annie said was always looking after everyone else and not herself.

“She was a carer she cared for everyone else ….to the extent where she just neglected herself.”

Since her mum’s death, Annie said she is much more aware now of heart disease and the family wished to get involved in the Her Heart Matters campaign to raise awareness of the risk of heart disease and stroke in women.

Annie said she would encourage all women not to dismiss symptoms like chest pain and to get it checked out by a doctor

“For the sake of the time it takes to go to A&E or visit the doctor, it is so important because you never know what the outcome will be.”

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