Running the half marathon to say goodbye to my daddy - Frankie

Bronagh Breslin with a picture of her late father Frankie Breslin. Photograph: George Sweeney
Bronagh Breslin with a picture of her late father Frankie Breslin. Photograph: George Sweeney

A Derry woman whose father died after years of chronic alcohol abuse is to run the in the city’s Half Marathon in September to raise money for Foyle Haven.

Bronagh Breslin said the bottom dropped out of her world last January when her father Frankie Breslin died after years battling alcoholism, at one point becoming a street alcoholic,

It was only after his death that Bronagh and her family learned of the huge support that Foyle Haven in John Street had given her father.

The Derry woman has now set herself the challenge of running the Half Marathon in September. It will be both an emotional and physical challenge. As well as running for her Daddy, Bronagh who has had part of her hip removed will also be facing the biggest physical challenge of her life running 13.1 miles.

“Foyle Haven were particularly good to my daddy,” said Bronagh. “Unfortunately we didn’t know how good until daddy died. In fact they were the ones who found daddy.

“Foyle Haven offer support to those at risk of homelesness because of substance abuse, namely alcohol. You can go in and have a meal, watch TV, talk to someone, get a change of clothes or get a shower. The support workers go above and beyond the call of duty. Daddy had gone there everyday.”

Bronagh revealed that her daddy had a drink problem for most of his life.

“He was that typical shirt and tie working alcoholic,” she said. “Daddy had a fantastic job, he was married and had a family. That marriage broke down when I was seven, and he continued to be a shirt and tie alcoholic. He remarried and had two more children.”

But when his second marriage ended, Bronagh said her dad’s drinking took a turn for the worse.

“At one stage he was on the corner of the street,” she said. “It was as bad as you can imagine. It was horrendous. But he was my daddy and I loved him dearly. I struggled to understand that it is an illness. I understand more now.”

Bronagh has now visited Foyle Haven where she has seen at first hand the work done there.

“There’s no judgement there,” she said. “They have a phenomenal saying - the only way to look down on an alcoholic is to help them up. You are offered support like a human being, not judgement.”

Bronagh said as the charity is not well known locally, she decided to put her new hobby of running to good use by running the half marathon to raise funds.

“I want to give back and say thank you and help them to continue to offer this support,” she said.

“I also want to do this to remember daddy. He was such a generous person and has left a huge hole behind - his four children, 13 brothers and sisters, grandchild and mother.”

Bronagh took up running last year to help her get over the grief of losing her daddy.

She says the Eglinton Road Runners have been vital to her progress. She has now completed a 5k, 10k, and ten mile road race. However the 13.1 miles in September will be her toughest challenge to date.

Bronagh is asking anyone who can sponsor her to go on to her page at www.justgiving.com/Bronagh-Breslin
-Sponsor forms are also available at the Journal office.