Co Armagh father-of-two to scale Alps raising funds for blood cancer research in memory of wife

Barry Williamson (far right) pictured with family and friends who will accompany him on his Alps challenge this week. From left , Lester Weir, David Sharkey and Lee Williamson
Marie Louise McConville

A CO ARMAGH man is to scale the Alps this week in memory of his wife who died from blood cancer two years ago.

Barry Williamson, an electrician from Tandragee, has raised £120,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI since the death of Alison (31).

The couple, who married in 2012, had two children together, Mya (13) and Rhys (nine).

In May 2016 Mrs Williamson, a classroom assistant, died from blood cancer, nine months after her diagnosis.

She had undergone 50 days of chemotherapy, as well as a stem cell transplant, moving from Craigavon Hospital to Dublin and finally Belfast City Hospital. At one stage she was taking 53 tablets a day preparing to undergo any treatments which would give her more time with her family.

Mrs Williamson was one of the 99 people in Northern Ireland who are diagnosed with blood cancer every month. Thanks to the work of scientists based in Belfast, funded by Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI, three out of four people in Northern Ireland diagnosed with blood cancer survive.

On Thursday Mr Williamson, who began fundraising for Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI research after his wife died, begins a three-day fundraising challenge to scale the Alps, taking in France, Switzerland and Italy. He has been training in the Mournes for the past nine weeks.

“I’ve been lucky that I’ve three companions on this trip – my eldest brother Lee and my two friends David and Lester,” he said.

“I’ve also trained on Yomp mountain challenge in Scotland covering 59 miles in 24 hours. We start today through France, Switzerland and Italy. It’s approximately 80km over three days.

“I would say I’ve got the bug for mountains. It’s a place where I can find peace of mind. It’s really my happy place.”

Mr Williamson said his wife was a “fantastic mother who just loved her kids and family”.

“When Alison was diagnosed she organised an event to raise money for Leukaemia and Lymphoma NI,” he said.

“I have been inspired by her and I’m funding a PhD studentship for three years researching cures for blood cancer. My first fundraising event raised £55k and in 18 months I’ve raised £120k in total for the charity.”

You can donate £5 by texting ALPS18 £5 to 70070.

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