Brooklyn’s mum channels grief to help homeless charity

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Sonia Aylmer holds a balloon with a message for her son, Brooklyn Colbert, following her 10km run to raise fund sfor Novas Initiatives. Photo Cian Reinhardt

THE mother of a Limerick schoolboy who died in violent circumstances six months ago organised a “fast walk” in his memory last weekend to raise funds for housing and addiction services charity NOVAS.

Sonia Aylmer’s 11-year old son Brooklyn Colbert was found dead in a house in Ballynanty on November 3, after sustaining multiple injuries.

A 26-year old man, known to the victim and his family, is currently before the courts charged with the boy’s murder.

Brooklyn and his mother were due to run together in the 10km Great Limerick Run which was postponed because of the Covid-19  lockdown.

A photo of Brooklyn Colbert sits outside the Augustinian Church, O’Connell Street Limerick as his mother, Sonia Aylmer, holds balloons to release in Brooklyn’s memory. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

Ms Aylmer and a small group of friends and family took part in a short walk which raised almost €3,000 for NOVAS.

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The fundraising drive will continue into October when she plans to take part in the rescheduled Great Limerick Run.

NOVAS helped Ms Aylmer and her only son out of a brief period of homelessness shortly before Brooklyn’s death.

Along with Brooklyn’s grandmother Terry Colbert, Ms Aylmer released 11 red balloons at the end of Sunday’s walk,in  an emotional tribute to Brooklyn who was a “mad Liverpool fan”.

“I kept my promise to Brooklyn. I did the walk I said I was going to do. Myself and Brooklyn do it every year, so I cut the route short and went past his school, and I left off 11 red balloons; ‘forever 11’ on them,” Ms Aylmer said after finishing the event.

“I’m emotionally drained from it, it’s a bittersweet day. Today was about showing our love for him. I just wanted to do something to mark his anniversary.”

NOVAS has also helped organise grief counselling for Ms Aylmer, who paid tribute to the group as well as her own family and her son’s father and his family.

Brooklyn Colbert’s mother, Sonia Aylmer, and grandmother, Terry Colbert stand next to photos of Brooklyn outside the Augustinian Church, Limerick City, following Sonia’s 10km run to raise funds for Novas Initiatives. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

“We nearly have €3,000 raised now, and Brooklyn would be delighted with that. He would be really proud and I’m proud to make him proud,” she said.

Ms Colbert fought back tears as she described the pain of losing her grandson so young.

“I’m very emotional, I just miss him so much. He was everything to me, and we’ll never get over his loss.”

Brooklyn’s beloved pet dog “Buddy” also took part in the fundraising walk.

Ms Aylmer thanked all those who supported her along the route while observing social distancing measures.

“We will be doing the real Great Limerick Run in October, if it goes ahead. Brooklyn loved doing it. I wore his medal today from another year he did it.”

Julie McKenna, NOVAS, said: “We’re very thankful to Sonia. It should have been her run with Brooklyn, and we were all geared up to do the run before the Covid-19 lockdown, so and it was great to see people come out today and adhere to the social distancing and still be together.”

“It is very difficult for people who have suffered loss or bereavement to try to manage their lives under lockdown and be isolated,” Ms McKenna said.

Donations to Ms Aylmer’s fundraising drive for NOVAS can be made at everyday hero.