The parents of a Derry man who died from malaria in 2006 are continuing to honour the memory of their son by raising money for a local charity.
Martin and Mary Gallagher’s son, Christopher, died in Thailand in 2006. He was just 23 years-old.
Martin and Mary have hosted a vigil called ‘Santa’s Big Fundraiser Appeal’ every year for the last six years. Last year they raised more than £2,200 for Children In Crossfire.
“Christopher was an independent young man capable of focusing his attention on what he wanted out of life.
“At the same time, he was fun loving and always enjoyed the craic with his friends,” said Christopher’s father, Martin.
“In 2006, Christopher set off for South East Asia starting his journey in India. Christopher witnessed people begging for clothes, food and water. He was genuinely affected by what he saw and vowed to do something to help these people when he returned home to Derry.
“Christopher had made up his mind that he would link up with a local charity to help combat poverty and the suffering of children.
“Sadly, Christopher was never able to fulfil his wish as he became a victim of the world’s most terrible disease - malaria - and passed away on May 20, 2006 - just two weeks before he was due to return home,” added Martin.
Martin explained why he and wife Mary continue to hold a vigil in their son’s memory every year.
“Out of our grief for Christopher we continue to honour him by raising money for Children In Crossfire,” he said.
“Children In Crossfire has a number of projects in places such as Tanzania, Ethiopia and Gambia.
“Along with the help of a few of Christopher’s friends we set-up the Christopher Gallagher Memorial Fund to fundraise in Christopher’s memory.
“Richard Moore and the rest of the Children In Crossfire team are extremely supportive of the work we do,” he added.
Since they started fundraising six years ago, Martin and Mary have raised more than £54,000 for Children In Crossfire.
“In the project we are currently involved with in Ethiopia we use the funds to pay for two nurses to run a clinic that looks after the needs of children of all ages. The money is also used to stock the clinic with much needed medical supplies,” said Martin.
‘Santa’s Big Fundraiser Appeal’ braved the cold winters for the first five years but this year the team will be taking shelter at the Guidhall’s main entrance.
“Without the continued support of the public we not be able to continue the appeal,” said Martin.
“By providing excellent healthcare for these children we are giving them a chance they would not otherwise have. I would like to thank everyone for their ongoing support,” he added.