Belfast Telegraph

How Margaretlee's tragic story helping runner rebuild his life

By Chris McCullough

A man has been so touched with the story of Margaretlee Hilton he has decided to put his own troubles aside and raise money for the young west Belfast mother who lost her life to cancer.

Many people were affected by the story of how she died earlier this week clutching the Babygro of the daughter she was too weak to hold. She gave birth while desperately ill and afterwards succumbed rapidly to the disease.

Although Ian Anderson is going through a tough time himself, when he read about Margaretlee in the Belfast Telegraph he felt he had to do something to help.

After taking to running to help bring himself "out of his shell", Ian decided he would run the Great North Run on September 13 in England to raise money for the charities that cared for Margaretlee.

Ballymoney man Ian (59) is going through his own personal trial and is trying to rebuild his own life and his family after a number of incidents which resulted in him moving out of the family home into sheltered accommodation in the Co Antrim town.

He is also out of work having taken voluntary redundancy after 43 years as a lab technician with the Ulster University in Coleraine.

Even though he had no real running experience Ian decided to enter the Belfast Marathon in May and managed to finish the 26.2 miles in just under six hours.

Ian told the Belfast Telegraph: "I was in a real low having left the family home due to personal problems and also facing the prospect of losing my job back in May.

"I felt terrible, my life was in a bad place, but when I heard about Margaretlee's story my own problems seemed very trivial.

"Even though I had no running experience I decided to tackle the Belfast Marathon just to get me out of the house and meeting people.

"The marathon went well and gave me a great deal of personal encouragement.

"I was so touched by Margaretlee's story I decided I wanted to help in some way.

"After being encouraged by completing the Belfast Marathon I saw an opportunity to raise money for Margaretlee by completing the Great North Run.

"It's a half marathon of just over 13 miles that starts in Newcastle in the north of England and is deemed the world's leading half marathon."

Ian lost his own brother to cancer 10 years ago and his father to depression 12 years ago, both tragedies which hit him hard.

"Margaretlee's story brought it all home to me," he added.

"I have registered for the Great North Run and have started trying to get sponsorships for it.

"I am trying to find out which charities were helping Margaretlee as I want to support them."

Ian attended Margaretlee's funeral to show his own respect for her.

He said: "Even though I am from a different side of the community to the family, I wanted to show my own respect for Margaretlee.

"I was warmly welcomed to the service by her family, who were all very nice people.

"Margaretlee's sister thanked me for coming, which was very nice of her.

"In raising this money for her memory ­- I just want to do something decent," he added.

"Through one thing and another I feel like I have lost the last 10 years of my life.

"I have a son Scott, who is 20, and daughter Hope, who turns 16 this weekend.

"If it wasn't for my kids I might not even be here, as they helped me get through a difficult time."

Margaretlee was buried in a private family service in Belfast on Wednesday.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph