skip to main content

Mum takes on charity run in memory of much-loved dad who fought 5-year health battle after a stroke aged just 50

09 Feb 2024
Ferris and family

Terri Reid is busy preparing to take on local health charity Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke’s (NICHS) Red Dress Fun Run. Terri is running in memory of her beloved father, Ferris Reid, who sadly passed away last year at the age of just 55 following a five-year fight after he had a severe stroke in 2017.

Now, Terri, along with her brother, Sam, and sister, Jolene, wants to raise funds and awareness for stroke and heart conditions which is why she is taking part in the upcoming Red Dress Fun Run 2024, supported by MACE and Musgrave MarketPlace. This will be Terri’s second time participating in the five-kilometre run or walk event, after she took part last year just three weeks after her father passed away. The Red Dress Fun Run aims to raise funds for NICHS’s care and prevention services and research, as well as awareness of heart disease as it takes place in February which is Heart Month.

Ferris 3

Terri explains; “Dad had a major stroke in November 2017 after he fell down the stairs following a heart attack. The news came as a complete shock as he was only 50 years old.”

“Dad was in ICU in the Royal Victoria Hospital for six weeks and he was then moved to the stroke ward where he stayed for about a month. The impact of dad’s stroke was very severe- he lost the ability to walk, talk, and the use of the right-hand side of his body.”

“He was then transferred to the Regional Acquired Brain Injury Unit at Musgrave Park Hospital for rehab. Dad had two further heart attacks there and after a couple of months he was deemed medically unfit for rehab. We were told he only had a 2-year life expectancy and would never be able to sit up, to walk, or to talk again which was just devastating, particularly given his age.”

Ferris 1

Terri’s family were then faced with a choice no one would want to have to make. “We were told we had to decide between moving dad to another rehab centre for younger people affected by stroke, or to a care home. The rehab centre was in Newry and because of dad’s life expectancy we wanted to be nearby to be able to spend as much time with him as possible, so dad moved to a care home.”

To everyone’s surprise Ferris stated to show signs of recovery as Terri explains; “Dad had this incredible drive even though he had been through so much and his life had completely changed. Within the space of a couple of months he was sitting up in bed. He then started, by using just one side of his body, to manoeuvre himself out of bed and into a wheelchair. It was unbelievable after the prognosis we had originally been given. That’s when we got physios, OTs and speech therapists involved again.”

“Dad’s progress was intermittent over the next few months but through the speech therapy we realised he was able to understand a lot more than we had originally thought. Dad started to make it clear he didn’t want to live in the care home anymore. There was nothing really for him there and he wasn’t able to interact with the other residents. He was also so much younger than everyone else living there and that made him feel very isolated. Dad then moved to a rehab facility in Newtownards in September 2019.”

The move was a positive one for Ferris and he made further progress. “Dad had the opportunity to do rehab and he also started going to a day centre where he was able to socialise more with people closer to his own age. This, and everything else he had been through, just spurred dad on and he completely transformed. No one expected him to do so well and amazingly he went back to living in his own place with the support of a care package. It was a massive achievement, and we were all so proud of him. He completely defied the odds he had been given which was amazing.”

Terri and family at Red Dress Fun Run 2023

Terri continues; “Dad had been living independently for two years when one day his carer phoned to say he was experiencing flu-like symptoms- he had a sore head, a temperature, and was chesty and struggling to breathe. An ambulance was called, and dad was taken into hospital. The next day was my son’s fourth birthday and I got a phone call to say dad had been admitted to ICU and was in a coma. His body was in a really weakened state and he also had heart disease and diabetes. He was in ICU for about six weeks which was really hard to watch. His organs were shutting down but when we were chatting to him he would blink for yes and no. Dad’s body was failing and although he was still fighting we thought every day would be his last.”

Ferris once again defied the odds and miraculously pulled through. “None of us could believe it. The medical team were saying, ‘this shouldn't be happening’. After two months dad was able to return home but sadly, he passed away two days later. I think he just wanted to get back to his own home. He died from a massive heart attack and he was only 55.”

“Dad fought an incredible battle for five years and after being told we would only have two more years with him after his stroke it was a blessing to get that time. He was very well loved and is so missed. The fact that dad isn’t around to see his four grandchildren grow up is just heart-breaking.”

Ferris 2

Despite their loss, Terri and her brother and sister are thinking of others and how they can help raise heart health awareness. Terri says; “Raising awareness of heart conditions and supporting Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke and the Red Dress Fun Run is so important to us and that’s why we are sharing dad’s story. If it helps encourage people to take steps to look after their health and wellbeing a bit more that would be great.”

“Sam, Jolene and I have all had health checks at the charity and have made lifestyle changes as a result. I want to get the health awareness message out, especially to younger people. I would never have thought about my heart health and my lifestyle choices until what happened to dad. I am 35 and 50, the age dad had his stroke, doesn't seem too far away now. If you need to make changes to try and reduce your risk of things like heart attack and stroke, now is the time to do it. It’s never too late. For me it’s about keeping healthy for yourself, and to try and prevent your family, especially your children, going through the same thing that we did with dad. It’s just heart-breaking.”

Terri continues; “I also want to encourage people to seek medical advice if they aren’t feeling quite right. What happened to dad has made us all more aware of our health and the risk factors and warning signs that there could be a potential issue. I wouldn’t brush things off because of my experiences and what I’ve learnt, and I would urge others to do the same. Don’t ignore any potential warning signs, especially if you have any sort of family history of heart illnesses, or any other illnesses. My mum also had a stroke at a very young age- she was only in her thirties. That, and what happened to dad, was a massive red flag for the three of us. If anyone ever has any health concerns I would urge them to reach out and seek advice and help.”

Talking about the Red Dress Fun Run, Terri says; “My brother did the Red Dress Fun Run for the first time in 2018 when dad was in hospital following his stroke. I volunteered and gave out medals at the finish line. We took photographs to show dad and told him about raising money and awareness and he was so happy. Last year, dad had only passed away three weeks previously and my brother, sister and I took part in the event in his memory. The atmosphere at the Red Dress Fun Run is amazing. Sometimes you can feel like you’re alone in your circumstances after losing your loved one and then you go to an event like the Red Dress Fun Run and there are hundreds of people who have gone through something similar. It is sad but it's also overwhelmingly comforting because you know there are other people out there going through the same thing. There is a real unity.”

“The other great thing about Red Dress Fun Run is it’s all-inclusive and for every ability- you can run, jog, walk, whatever suits you. I’m not overly fit but seeing everybody giving it a go and doing their best is really motivating. I'll have my daughter in the pram this year and my son, who is five, will be on my partner’s shoulders. It’s lovely we can all take part together. Dad would be glad to see us all doing something positive after everything that has happened, and we will be thinking of him with every step we take.”

Christine Duncan, Events and Marketing Manager at Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke is urging the public to sign up to the event saying; “We are so grateful to Terri for sharing her family’s story and for supporting the Red Dress Fun Run. Ferris’ passing at just 55 years old is truly tragic and sadly, so many people are affected by heart illness in our local communities. Coronary heart disease is the biggest single cause of premature deaths in people younger than 75 across NI and heart disease kills nearly twice as many women here as cervix, uterus, ovary and breast cancer combined.”

“So please come run, walk, dance, skip or wheel 5K with us on Sunday 25th February at Stormont Estate, or if you can’t make the live event, you can support us by doing 5k your way any day, or over days, in February. Together we can help rebuild thousands of lives and make a lasting change towards heart health in Northern Ireland. Everyone is welcome to come along and join in the fun - even the family pooch!”

The charity will once again partner with MACE and Musgrave MarketPlace for the 2024 event. Diane Anthony from Musgrave says; “MACE and Musgrave MarketPlace are both backing NICHS’s call for people to dress up in red and come together at this year’s event to raise awareness and funds to fight heart illness. Whether you’re taking part in memory of someone you have lost to heart illness, celebrating someone who is living with a heart condition, or to prevent heart disease happening to someone in the future – sign up and join us to support this worthy cause! It’s set to be a fantastic day.”

If you have been inspired to step up to the challenge, you can sign up to the Red Dress Fun Run at