Thanks for ‘overwhelming’ support

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A Dungiven woman left heartbroken by the death of her husband to cancer has described the support given towards a fundraising drive as “overwhelming”, writes Sheena Jackson.

Sharon McElhinney’s husband, Liam ‘Tilly’ McElhinney died on January 23 after a 16-month long battle with esophageal cancer. He was 48 years old.

l-R: Michelle Mullan, Martina McSorley, Siobhan McLaughlin, Sandra O'Donnell'Front L-R: Kyle McElhinney, Aimee McElhinney, Malcom  (Macmillan), Sharon McElhinney

l-R: Michelle Mullan, Martina McSorley, Siobhan McLaughlin, Sandra O'Donnell'Front L-R: Kyle McElhinney, Aimee McElhinney, Malcom (Macmillan), Sharon McElhinney

Since his death, a number of events, including Walk For Tilly’, were organised to raise money for Macmillan Cancer, Charis, and the Oesophageal Cancer Fund.

Macmillan received, £2,000 plus £302.33 from a Just Giving page; Charis received £3171.00 plus £110 from a ‘Just Giving’ page, and the Oesophageal Cancer Fund received £1,000.

The Cancer Centre was presented with a painting of Dungiven Castle and Benbradagh painted by Margaret O’Kane from Dungiven, while the framing was completed by Peter O’Kane from Feeny.

Sharon explained how the fundraising campaign evolved.

“‘Walk for Tilly’ all came about with the suggestion by my friend, Sandra to do the Belfast Marathon in memory of Tilly and this evolved into the walk.

“It would never have happened without all the hard work of the organising committee which consisted of Martina McSorley, Sandra O’Donnell, Siobhan McLaughlin, Michelle Mullan and Sheena McTaggart. Martena Heaveron’s fund raiser in March also raised almost £1,000 which was also included in the overall total,” explained Sharon.

“It has been a very emotional journey, but I think Liam/Tilly would be proud of the money raised in his name, even though he would have hated all the publicity and his photo everywhere.”

Sharon said she also wanted to make sure The Cancer Centre in Belfast was also given a token of appreciation.

“The Cancer Centre was a very tough place to be in as we were so far away from home with little support so, with the painting, there is a small piece of Dungiven in Belfast for others who are in the same position,” she said.

“The money for Macmillan is going towards the Macmillan appeal for the new Centre at Altnagelvin which will mean other families eventually won’t have to travel to Belfast and will be able to get treatment closer to home which is vitally important.

“I chose the Oesophageal Cancer Fund as they raise awareness of Oesophageal cancer which is what Liam had. Charis has been such a support to us as a family since Liam died so I wanted to donate to them.

“They do such a lot of valuable work for people who have cancer and their families and friends.”

Sharon added: “I just want to thank all those who helped and supported us in any way, and especially those who donated to the ‘Walk for Tilly’.

“The help we received from countless individuals and local businesses was so overwhelming.”

Sharon said when ‘Team Tilly’ started out they: “We originally hoped to make £2,000, and we more than trebled that so we are very thankful for all the generous donations,” she added.