Derry hero Danny Quigley to do 'Celebration of Life'

Danny Quigley has started preparations to swim the length of the Foyle and beyond to break the stigma around mental health.

Danny made headlines last year when he did ten ‘IronMans’ in ten days, raising over £100,000 in the process for Pieta House and the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum. This time, Danny is aiming to swim over 90Km from Lifford to Stroove lighthouse and possibly beyond – via the river Foyle. Danny is inviting people to nominate loved-ones who have died by suicide, who he will then dedicate a kilometer to in this huge undertaking.

Danny said: “The minimum I will be swimming is 90km but I will swim a kilometer for to celebrate the life of each nominated individual who has died by suicide, so the swim has the potential to be a lot longer. If 200 people come forward, I’ll swim 200km. The more people who come on-board, the more exciting it will be. I don’t want to swim and just think of a name, I plan to develop some sort of relation to all the people who come forward so I can know each person for whom the kilometer will be nominated. It’s called ‘The Celebration of Life’, because we want to celebrate the lives of people who have died from suicide. We want to celebrate the good and happy times, because sometimes they can be overshadowed by the times when they were sick and the cause of their death.

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"I want to celebrate people for who they were and what they loved doing, what their hobbies were and their interests. In going forward, we want to make people aware that these were happy people who had great lives and, due to sad circumstances, passed away. We want to remember them for who they were.

Sporting hero Danny Quigley pictured at Destined in 2021 after completing a gruelling 10 Ironman Triathlons in 10 days in memory of his dad and fundraising over £7100,000 for charities. Photo: George Sweeney / Derry Journal. DER2135GS – 027

"This challenge is also a fundraiser for Foyle Search and Rescue and the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum (BBHF). Any money donated to the BBHF will go towards mental health services and courses. Foyle Search and Rescue goes towards suicide prevention and the work they do around the river.

"The subliminal of this is the fact that the Foyle has a really bad reputation. It’s not the river’s fault that people are taking their own lives. It’s issues further up stream, metaphorically speaking, where people are suffering from poor mental health. We want to shine a better light on the Foyle while also utilising the river, using it for something good while celebrating the lives of people who potentially have died in the Foyle. It’s a poignant message that’s being put across that people are entering the river because they are unable to talk about their mental health because of stigmas in society. I think the best thing for me to do is hit it head on and show people that there’s no need to fear the river here. It’s obviously not safe to swim in it for a long period of time but we need to change people’s view on the river itself and realise how much of a central piece it is in our city. It has so much potential to be used in positive ways.

"I will do the swim in August 2023, so I’ve got ten months of training now ahead of me. I’ll do cross-training from now until January and then it will be swim-based until March/April and then from April onwards, I’ll be back swimming in open water again. I’ll put a daily training blog on my Facebook and Instagram every day where I give a break-down of what I do each day and hopefully we’ll have a video blog every few weeks too where we can get to know some of the people we will be celebrating. By doing that, it shows not only the severity of suicide rates in the city, but it will also show that this also impacts so many walks of life. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ – it affects different people, ages, backgrounds, jobs, financial circumstances. It’s no joke and you cannot hide from it. You have to look after yourself and your mental health. I think by just doing the swim itself, it creates a conversation about suicide and mental health because people are going to be talking about what I’m doing.”

To Celebrate the Life of an individual who lost their lives to suicide, contact [email protected] and keep an eye on Danny’s Facebook and Instagram pages for updates. Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/thecelebrationoflife?utm_term=bm6MwQgzq

Endurance athlete and Health and Wellbeing Campion Danny Quigley pictured after he was conferred with the Freedom of the City and Strabane, at a special ceremony in the Guildhall. Photo: George Sweeney. DER222GS – 007

Danny will have completed extensive training for this challenge and will also be supported by a team of experts while swimming. It is not recommended that anybody attempt to swim in the river Foyle themselves.

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Danny Quigley.