Ballymena charity shop on the brink as owner Ken Wright fights for life with Covid

The family of a Co Antrim man who is fighting for his life in hospital has launched an appeal to save his shop which is facing mounting bills.

By Graeme Cousins
Monday, 8th November 2021, 10:25 am
Ken Wright, pictured just days before he got Covid, in the Ballymena charity shop which he runs. Both Ken (right) and volunteer Phillip dyed their hair purple for Austim Awareness and World Mental Health

Ken Wright, who runs the Compassion Group Network charity shop in Ballymena, is on a ventilator in an induced coma due to coronavirus.

The 48-year-old and his wife Christine both contracted Covid last month.

Their eldest daughter Rose, 29, said she woke last Friday with a “terrible gut feeling” that all was not well with her father. She knew he needed to go to hospital but he insisted he was okay.

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She said: “His personality started changing, from the kindest man who would never raise his voice to anyone he was getting really agitated very quickly.

“He was taking a breath every word. His oxygen level had fallen to 66%.”

The family were relieved when they learned that Ken had responded well to treatment having been rushed to the Mater Hospital, however during the night he took a turn for the worse and ended up having to be put into an induced coma and placed on a ventilator.

He has since been moved to Causeway Hospital and then Craigavon while remaining sedated.

The family haven’t been able to visit, but on Saturday they were able to carry out a video call inside their dad’s hospital room.

Rose said: “As you can imagine that was very difficult. It’s very shocking, there were just wires and tubes everywhere.

“They put the phone to his ear but I don’t know if he can hear us or not.

“[His granddaughter] Amber spoke down the phone and told him what she got for her fourth birthday and his eyes flickered. That was the first response they’ve had from him the nurse said.”

Ken and his wife Christine, who is registered blind, have four children, one of whom – Abigail – is trying to get an emergency visa so she can fly home from California.

While Ken is in hospital, the charity shop which he runs in Ballymena is struggling.

Rose said: “Because it’s such a big building and the electrics are really old, our bill is really big.

“My mother-in-law Lisa suggested setting up a funding page. We’re just trying to keep the charity afloat. The charity is partnered with a counselling service supporting mental health.”

Lisa Puhlhofer, who is a retired nurse practitioner, set up a page on justgiving. So far they are more than halfway to their target of £2,000.

She said: “The shop is Ken’s life, he’s there all the time. Rose was worried it would close because he’s not there.”

To donate to the appeal go to

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