Family feeds homeless in memory of their ‘courageous’ Suzanne

Family and friends of courageous Suzanne.

Family and friends of courageous Suzanne.

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THE family of a kind-hearted fundraiser who died suddenly two years ago have helped to feed the city’s homeless in her memory.

Pat and Brenda O’Brien have paid tribute to their “pretty, positive and courageous” daughter who passed away in August 2015 after she collapsed on a bus in the city’s Southside.

Suzanne J O'Brien

Suzanne J O'Brien

Suzanne O’Brien, from Craigmillar, was 40 at the time and had spent much of her life helping charities. After her passing, her friends and family set up a JustGiving Page in her memory, to enable people to donate money to Bethany Christian Trust – a homeless charity close to her heart.

Suzanne enjoyed talking to people who were living on the streets and would regularly buy them coffee and sandwiches. According to her dad, one cold and rainy night, she took off her hat and scarf to give to a homeless man on the Royal Mile.

Mr O’Brien said: “Suzanne was so positive, she was doing so well in life and I’d never seen so her happy. She was always organising things and she loved helping others.

“She was always running marathons and doing anything she could to raise money for charity, I was forever getting texts that would say, ‘Dad, can you sponsor me?’.”

He added: “She was fit as a flea. What happened in August 2015 was truly devastating.

“We are still trying to establish what actually happened.”

After her friends raised over £3,000 on her JustGiving page for the Bethany Christian Trust, her parents used the money to host a charity night on Saturday, January 14 to mark her birthday.

Over 40 homeless people gathered in London Road Church where they received a free meal and a comfy mattress for the night. Pat and Brenda helped to prepare the home-made meals.

Bethany Christian Trust 
supports over 7,000 people across Scotland. It focuses on preventing homelessness as well as alleviating the suffering of people who are in the situation.

The charity provides tailored visiting support and community development and also helps individuals and families to help address long-standing issues including social isolation, unemployment, and drug addiction.

Across Edinburgh, Bethany Christian Trust holds nightly shelters in churches, offering food and warmth.

Liam Kerr, Conservative MSP for North East Scotland, was among those helping to serve the food at the church.

He said: “Suzanne and I were best friends since school.

“She spent so much time since we left raising money for good causes through marathons, abseiling down the Forth Bridge, parachute drops and other crazy stuff. Her sudden and unexpected loss was an absolute tragedy.

“Her life touched so many people in so many good ways that the [funeral] service was standing room only.

“Homelessness was a cause that she did a great deal for and this event allowed her good work to continue, through the important and often lifesaving work that Bethany does.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk