Belfast Telegraph

Anna McAllister's dad cycles around Ireland in tribute to tragic Derry schoolgirl

A Northern Ireland dad has cycled around the island of Ireland in just eight days in tribute to his daughter.

Anna McAllister passed away almost three years ago from a brain tumour. Her father Randal, from Kilrea in Co Derry, cycled 1,200km passing through all 32 counties to raise money for two charities - Cancer Fund for Children and Children's Cancer Unity Charity.

Accompanying Randal on his cycle in memory of his daughter Anna, was his good friends Paul Donnelly and Brian Calvert.

Beginning their journey on September 9 at 'Daisy Lodge', a Cancer Fund for Children’s short break centre in Newcastle Co Down, they finished on September 16, at Anna's home just outside Kilrea.

They took part in the challenge in September, which is also known as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month - a month dedicated to raising awareness of the devastating impact of childhood cancer on families.

Anna, a former student of Loreto College in Coleraine, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in March 2013 aged 15-years-old.

Following her diagnosis Anna underwent major brain surgery, multiple courses of chemotherapy, stem cell transplants and emergency surgeries.

Sadly on September 19, 2014, aged just 16-years-old, Anna passed away after a heroic fight to overcome her cancer.

Speaking when Anna was first diagnosed, Randal said: "Anna's diagnosis was totally devastating for our personal family circle, for her close friends and all those who knew and loved Anna.

"Anna's condition was extremely severe and required very aggressive treatments to try and combat the brain tumour. It left her unable to walk from an early stage and also severely affected her normal motor skills."

Mr McAllister added: "From the start of Anna's treatment was fraught with problems and complications that led to many operations and admissions into intensive care. Her determination to overcome her illness and survive has been an inspiration to everyone who knew her and has led to so many fundraising events taking place in her name.

"The All Ireland Cycle Challenge is just a continuation of the 'Anna effect' whilst we keep her memory very much to the fore."

The two charities the three cyclists are raising funds for played vital roles during Anna's illness and treatment.

Speaking of the charities Randal said: "Now that we have gone through the terrible event of of our daughter's illness and death, we recognise the significant importance of both charities to other families facing a childhood cancer diagnoses."

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Randal with Brian and Paul who took part in the All Ireland Cycle Challenge

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