Derry man Billy Duddy goes to great lengths - quite literally - to help a cause that’s close to his heart, and next month he’ll run his tenth half-marathon for the Foyle Down Syndrome Trust.
Billy, originally from Central Drive in Creggan but now a long-time resident of Springvale Park, is well known to many in the city and can often be spotted out running, hail, rain or shine. He is currently training for the 32nd Waterside Half Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, September 8.
Speaking to the ‘Derry Journal’, 64 year-old Billy explained the motivation behind such a healthy exercise regime.
“I always run for the Foyle Down Syndrome Trust. My daughter Laura is a member of the Trust and it really is a great cause and helps a lot of young kids with ‘Downs’ through their home-based education scheme,” he reveals.
“The Trust work on language development and help children develop learning skills and social skills through things like music, drama and art.
“They also have a social programme for the older children between the ages of 13-25, helping them with their independent living skills and with activities such as cookery, first aid, drama, computers and outdoor pursuits.”
“My daughter Laura, who is now 24 years-of-age, has really benefited from all these programmes and that’s the main reason we like to give something back to the Trust,” Billy adds.
Despite being in his mid-60s, Billy maintains a regular exercise routine to help keep him tip-top for the annual half marathon.
Speaking of this regime, Billy says: “Even with so many new running clubs in the town nowadays, I still prefer to run on my own as it gives me the flexibility to run whenever it suits me and choose my own routes too.
“I have a few routes that I use a lot, namely the Skeoge Road route, which is around four and a half miles from my house and back.
“I also run the two bridges and the Peace Bridge, which works out around seven miles, but my favourite has got to be out the line from the Foyle Valley Railway Museum and back in via Ballyougry Hill, the Letterkenny Road and Foyle Road, which works out around eight and a half miles.
“These runs, maybe two or three times a week, are usually enough to get me ready for the half marathon,” he says.
But Billy admits it’s sometimes quite difficult to raise money for the local charity.
“I find that the training part is easy,” he admits, “the hard part is asking people to sponsor me!”
“But, every year I find people are always very generous, so this year I’m appealing again to all my friends, relatives and everybody that knows me or our Laura to help sponsor me for this year’s Waterside Half Marathon. All donations, no matter how big or small, are extremely welcome and would be greatly appreciated.
“This really is a great cause and anyone who would like to sponsor me with a donation, please contact me personally or any member of my family,” Billy added.
If you’d like to help, please contact Billy through the Foyle Down Syndrome Trust Offices, Shared Future Centre, City View Park, 61 Irish Street, Waterside. Telephone: 71 343991 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org