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Tuesday 22 October 2019

'I wanted to make a difference to someone else's life' - Man's heartwarming gesture for boy (6) with autism

Catherine Griffin with her son Cathal (5)
Catherine Griffin with her son Cathal (5)
Hugh Watters
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

An inspirational Belfast man has raised thousands of euro for a young boy with autism, after he heard he was struggling to receive adequate supports in his hometown of Limerick.

Hugh Watters (46) said that he "wanted to make a difference" while running this year's London Marathon and decided for raise funds for young Cathal Griffin.

Hugh Watters
Hugh Watters

Cathal (6) was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. His mother Catherine Griffin (34) has her hands full caring for her autistic son as well as his younger brother Joey (4).

Catherine Griffin from Ballyneety, Limerick said last November that she had “nowhere to turn” after waiting over two years for respite care for her autistic son, Cathal.

After hearing the Griffins' story, Belfast man Hugh, said that he wanted to try and help the family.

"I've done a few marathons in the past and I always run for the big charities but in recent times I've become a bit disillusioned with them because of recent scandals," Hugh told

"I wanted to be able to make a difference to someone else's life so I decided to look for smaller charities that I could raise money for while running the London Marathon."

Hugh said that his fiancée Edel came up with the idea to raise money for the Griffins as she went to school with Cathal's mum Catherine.

"Edel grew up with Catherine and knew that she was struggling to get the adequate supports for Cathal in Limerick. When I heard that Catherine was a single mum of two young boys who gave up her job to look after Cathal, I was really touched.

"I thought 'here's someone I can genuinely help and make a difference to their lives'."

Hugh decided to run two marathons for Cathal, one in London and one in Limerick, in the space of two weeks.

"It was very challenging to run the two marathons back-to-back but I'm proud that I didn't collapse into my own vomit and managed to raise money for Cathal.

"Initially I set the target to €1,000 but I had to keep updating the target because the donations were flooding in. People were really touched by Cathal's story and we've raised nearly €5,000 for the family now. I'm absolutely delighted that I was able to help."

You can donate to the Griffin family here: has contacted the HSE for comment.

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