Clerical daredevils to scale new heights

Rev. David Latimer, Fr. Eamonn Graham and Liam Crawfordat the launch of the abseil in aid of the Parkinsons Disease Association. (2606JB31)
Rev. David Latimer, Fr. Eamonn Graham and Liam Crawfordat the launch of the abseil in aid of the Parkinsons Disease Association. (2606JB31)

Two of Derry’s well-known clerics will join in prayer this summer - when they step off a building for charity!

Fr. Eamon Graham and Rev. David Latimer have agreed to abseil from the Derry City Council building to raise money for Parkinson’s Disease on August 4.

For Fr. Graham, who was based in Derry for 22 years, this will be his second abseil at the cityside building.

“I did one there last year for Trocaire, but that was more by accident than design,” said the Parish Priest of Banagher. “But it was relatively straightforward. I’m not nervous when you see what people who have Parkinson’s have to live with. What they wouldn’t give to just be able to walk to the top of the stairs, something we take for granted.”

Fr. Graham doesn’t see himself as a daredevil at all, but believes he should do his bit to help the community and charitable organisations.

“People in the North West are always very generous and, sure, none of know what’s in front of us.”

The 56-year-old said his parishioners in Feeny have dropped a few jibes, asking if a bungee jump is next.

“I don’t think so, but it’s also a good way for people to see another side of ministering, that it’s not just about standing at a pulpit.

“It also shows the closeness between clerics of different denominations as we meet all the time through the routine of work, and that is a good thing. And of course the important thing is raising awareness and funds for Parkinsons.”

So does the Omagh man have any special requests for the ‘man above’ on the day?

“I just hope he gives me a merciful judgement!” he says.

First Derry Presbyterian minister, Rev David Latimer is “petrified” by the abseil, even though he has completed one before with the Territorial Army. “Well it’s not just a matchbox,  it’s a four-storey building, so I think I will find it quite a challenge,” he said.

Like Fr. Graham, the 59-year-old is confronted by illness through his work, including meeting those living with Parkinson’s.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to do something that could help alleviate their pain and help research that could prolong their lives. Anything I can do, I will wholeheartedly be involved in.”

Rev. Latimer and Fr. Graham will don their clerical garb for the adventure they hope will draw plenty of support.

“I will be saying my Protestant prayers and Fr. Graham will say his Catholic prayers, but they will all be to the same God!”

The man responsible for persuading the clerics to participate is Liam Crawford. The Foreglen man was diagnosed with Parkinsons’s four years ago and is a member of the charity’s Foyle branch. He said since his diagnosis, the branch has provided brilliant support; in particular chairman, Jack Glenn. The former lorry driver, a native of Ballybofey, had to give up work after his diagnosis, which has left him unable to walk unaided.

Liam said: “It was a big shock getting the news, but sure it would be worse if you were told you had six months to live. You just have to get on with things because it’s not going to go away,” he said, adding he has received tremendous support from Glenshane Community Development in Dungiven.

“Parkinson’s is part of me now and you just have to live with it,” he told the ‘Journal’. Wanting to do his bit to fundraise, Liam had heard Fr. Graham was no stranger to such dizzy feats, and asked him to take part. He also wanted to make it a cross community event, so he asked Rev. Latimer. “They were both very willing to do it. I hope people can support it as much as possible because every little bit helps.” Sponsorship forms are available from Glenshane Community Development in Dungiven or by contacting Liam at 07742215945.