The courageous parents of the late Christy Gallagher - who braved sub zero conditions the week before Christmas dressed as Santa and Mrs Claus, have sent their heartfelt thanks to the many people who supported their cause.
Martin and Mary Gallagher who lost their son Christopher (23) after he contracted two strains of malaria while backpacking in Thailand in 2006 were determined to raise money for mosquito nets for the children of Tanzania, through a fund set up by Children in Crossfire.
For seven days Martin and Mary braved the snow, icy and freezing conditions to raise a phenomenal £6,740.
Their fundraising was so successful that the couple now have plans to set up a mobile clinic in Tanzania.
“It was cold but so worthwhile,” said Martin. “In fact Mary and I had a great Christmas when we were finished.
“We want to thank all those people who looked after us and donated. There were so many people who were bringing us hot drinks and snacks, we were well looked after. Nothing was too much to those who looked after us, you know who you are.
“Special thanks also has to go to Children in Crossfire who have been very supportive.”
Following the death of Christy, Mary and Martin were determined to prevent the spread of malaria.
With the help of Derry based charity, Children in Crossfire, the couple set up The Malaria Fund, which raises funds for medication and malaria nets for those in deprived countries stricken by the disease.
“It has been great for us, and given us something to focus on and a reason to get out of bed every day,” said Mary.
“We know more about malaria now than before. It’s a terrible, terrible disease.”
Mary revealed how Christopher’s death devastated her and husband Martin.
“The hardest part is accepting the loss,” she said.
“We have two sons and Christopher was our eldest. He had just graduated from Queen’s and wanted to go on this trip for his gap year. It was his dream and he was happy.”
Two weeks before he died, and two weeks before he was due to fly home, Christopher telephoned his parents telling them how he didn’t regret the trip, what a great mother and father they were and how much he loved them.
“He was saying goodbye to us,” Mary explained. “Christopher had been sick for a while but hadn’t told us. When the malaria symptoms come on they are like flu, that’s probably what he thought he had.
“After he died we had two choices - either wallow in our grief and sit at home - or do something positive. So we started raising awareness. We can’t do anything for Christy; we can’t help him now but we hope that by doing this we will be able to help others in his name.”
You can still donate to the appeal at www.justgiving.com/malaria