Football event helps aid Motor Neurone sufferers

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A local family who have tirelessly helped to raise thousands in memory of a local man who died from the debilitating condition, Motor Neurone Disease, held an annual football tournament in June.

Alan Stitt (48), who was a well-known amateur footballer and who suffered from Motor Neurone Disease, died in January, 2013 after fighting the illness for five years.

‘We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who made the day a success’

The well-known amateur footballer had travelled to China for controversial stem cell treatment in 2008 had fought the illness for five years. He was 48.

Sister Sandra Walsh, along with Newell Haggan and Tommy Heasley arranged a football tournament at Ballymacash Rangers Football ground.

The money they raised was split; half of the money was given to local Motor Neurone sufferer Evelyn Gillespie towards the building of a wet room, and the other half to the Buncrana family who lost five members in the recent pier accident.

Sandra said, “It was a real sunny day, a bit of a change from last year, but we had a great turnout approximately 12 seven-a-side teams. Little Jay Beatty from Lurgan was special guest and kicked off the day. He loved every minute of it.

“The ‘Man United team’ won the tournament and were presented with the Alan Stitt Perpetual Cup.”

Alan was diagnosed with the crippling condition that affects the nervous system in 2008, after he complained of a sore back. He had been fitting a kitchen when he fell and broke his arm.

After a series of tests that involved CT scans and electrodes on his legs and it was discovered that he was suffering from a potentially fatal condition Motor Neurone Disease.

Sandra and her family have been raising thousands of pounds for Motor Neurone Disease Association through a variety of fundraising events for the past eight years.

Sandra said of the latest event, “We have donated £490 to the Buncrana family and £490 to the Evelyn Gillespie Fund.

“We would like to thank Susan and Ann Haggan for doing all the cooking on the day. Also The Country Kitchen and the Chipped Potato, Knockmore, Murphys Butcher Tonagh for supplying food for the BBQ. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who made the day a success and to the barman in The Bluebell.”

In May, Ruth and Philip Rogers from St James, Hillsborough ran a Star Wars themed birthday party for their four-year-old son Toby in Gowdys and raised £420 for Motor Neurone. This was matched by Barclays Bank making a grand total of £840.”