Tuesday 24 April 2018

Buncrana hero and pier tragedy mum to run charity marathon today

Nevin Farrell

A woman who lost five members of her family in the Buncrana pier tragedy will today take part in the Belfast Marathon - and run alongside the hero who rescued her infant daughter from Lough Swilly.

Louise James (35) and Davitt Walsh (28) will run in the May Day bank holiday event as part of a 100-strong team to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

It is a cause close to Louise's heart as her son Evan (8), who died in the Co Donegal tragedy, suffered from muscular dystrophy.

Brave Davitt leapt into the freezing sea after the car with six members of the McGrotty and Daniels families slipped off the pier.

Read More: Buncrana hero Davitt Walsh given guard of honour

Davitt managed to save four-month-old Rioghnach-Ann, and almost managed to grab another child - but the youngster was dragged from his grip by the pressure of the vehicle.

Unimaginable grief: Louise James with partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan and baby Rioghnach-Ann who was saved Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
Unimaginable grief: Louise James with partner Sean McGrotty, sons Mark and Evan and baby Rioghnach-Ann who was saved Photo: Family Handout/PA Wire
Evan (L), Mark (R) and baby Rioghnach McGrotty.
Louise James (front left) breaks down as she carries the coffin of one of her sons. Photo: PA

Yesterday footballer Walsh was given a guard of honour as he lined out for Fanad United for the first time since the tragedy against Derry City Reserves, who won 3-1.

Read More: 'I look forward to being a part of beautiful baby Rioghnach-Ann's life' - Buncrana hero Davitt Walsh

Sean McGrotty (46), the baby's father who passed Rioghnach-Ann to Davitt, died alongside his sons Mark (12) and Evan (8), his mother-in-law Ruth Daniels, (57) and her daughter Jodie Lee Daniels (14).

Louise was away on a trip at the time of the tragedy.

Jodie-Lee Daniels
Jodie-Lee Daniels
Ruth Daniels

More than 100 people are taking on the challenge of the Belfast Marathon as part of #TeamEvan to raise awareness for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

They are all running in memory of Evan, Mark, Jodie Lee, Sean and Ruth.

Read More: Buncrana hero and pier tragedy mum to take part in charity marathon together

All funds raised will go to the charity's Duchenne Research Breakthrough Fund. The people of Derry are wishing Louise well in today's race.

Fr Noel Brown told the Belfast Telegraph yesterday the good wishes of the Holy Family parish in the Ballymagroarty area will be with Louise and the rest of the runners.

He said: "I wish them the very best and hope it goes well for them.

"It is a lovely thing that they are doing together and it is a lovely thing that they are raising money for muscular dystrophy. The people of the parish are united with her.

"I was talking to her today and I mentioned the fact that she was running in the marathon."

Another person taking part is Larne Football Club's Scott Irvine, who suffered a serious head injury when he collided with a wall at Inver Park during an Irish Cup clash against Carrick Rangers last year.

Scott said: "I'm running for Brain Injury Matters and Action on Hearing Loss, the two main charities involved with the injuries I suffered.

"There is a team of five out of my work going to do a leg each.

"I haven't actually used any of the charities, but I've seen the work they do and I cannot speak highly enough of them.

"They make a massive impact on people, and if I can help in any way I will be delighted."

More than 17,500 runners are expected to hit the streets of Belfast today. The official charity this year is Mencap.

Former Liverpool FC boss Brendan Rodgers from Carnlough is also taking part in the NI Hospice celebrity relay team.

Last month Rodgers became an official ambassador of the hospice. His late father Malachy received hospice care in 2011 while suffering from cancer.

Belfast Telegraph

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