Derry couple complete marathon

The parents of a Derry man who died after contracting Malaria while on a gap year in Thailand have thanked their many friends and supporters who competed in the Belfast Marathon last week.

Martin and Mary Gallagher were left devastated following the death of their son Christy almost five years ago.

However to keep their son’s memory alive they have thrown themselves into charity work alongside Children in Crossfire and the Malaria Fund.

Most memorably at Christmas, the couple spent a week in sub zero temperatures collecting money outside Derry’s Guildhall.

The Gallaghers’ world fell apart in 2006 when they lost their son Christopher (23) after he contracted two strains of malaria.

The couple say they’re now determined to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.

And their charity work, they say, gives them a reason to “get up every morning.”

“We’d never done a marathon before,” Martin told the Journal after completing the 26 mile challenge.

“Our training was made up of doing the two bridges every now and then to try and get fit.

“I have to thank all of those with us including Paula Miller, Martin Junior, Siobhan Smith and Cathy Boyle.”

To fundraise for the event the teams spent days in shopping centres at Northside, Quayside, Rathmor and Foyleside.

Already £2,900 has been raised with still many of the sponsor forms yet to be finalised.

Thanks to the generosity of the Derry public Martin revealed that this year they will be able to put more funds into looking after the welfare of children with malaria, which weakens the immune system.

They are also able to part fund a mobile clinic which helps to distribute nets and medication to outlying areas.

It’s welcome news for the couple who visited Tanzania in 2010.

“For us, the work we do is putting good in to what was a tragic event for us,” said Martin.

“Christy’s name is living on.

“And more than that we are able to put prevention methods in place.

“We have to say a big thanks to all of those who helped to support us and the people who did the marathon with us on the day.”