She's a real fighter'

Brave Dungiven three-year-old Laura McGilligan was diagnosed with Leukaemia in May last year.

Laura's parents, Colin and Mary McGilligan, were so grateful to Royal Victoria Children's Hospital in Belfast, they wanted to do something in return and Laura's mother, Mary, a nurse in Altnagelvin, came up with an idea.

"A few friends of ours decided to do a walk around Derry crossing the two bridges to raise money for the Northern Ireland Children's Cancer Unit," Mr McGilligan told the 'Journal'.

The family proudly presented the Royal with a cheque for 2,500 last month.

Since May last year, Laura has been undergoing intense chemotherapy. Her father Colin McGilligan recalled: "It all took place over a matter of weeks when Laura just wasn't keeping well. She was very lethargic with high temperatures. The doctor prescribed antibiotics for an inner ear infection, but it didn't clear up."

Eventually, doctors discovered something in Laura's blood test and she was sent to the Royal for bone marrow biopsies.

"They told us that Laura had Leukaemia - that was such a dark day for us. We couldn't believe it," her father said.

Laura's chemotherapy will continue for well over a year, but the initial intensive treatment is almost at an end. "Hopefully we'll be able to get Laura out more after April. Hopefully her hair will grow back too and she might even be able to get back to Dungiven Crche with the other children again."

"She's definitely on the mend, although we can't take anything for granted. She's a real fighter though, very stubborn!

Speaking of staff at the Royal, Mr McGilligan added: "They deserve every penny and more.

"If Laura gets sick, we have to literally drop everything and go, but the staff at the Royal are so accommodating, no matter what time of the day or night, they've been fantastic. It's a big relief to know that they're always there."