Leukaemia and Lymphoma Northern Ireland
1020. Barry Williamson
Barry Williamson, from County Armagh, is the leading fundraiser for ‘Leukaemia and Lymphoma Northern Ireland’, the only charity in the province dedicated to supporting blood cancer patients.
The charity provided vital support for Barry’s wife Alison when she was diagnosed with a rare type of lymphoma, and following her death from the disease in 2016 at the age of 31, he was determined to raise awareness and support medical research into the disease. He played a leading part in their innovative #EmptyChairs campaign, which shared stories of blood cancer survivors and of families who lost relatives, with Barry’s story reaching over 30,000 people online. Through a series of endurance mountaineering challenges, he has raised over £120,000 for the charity to fund a PhD scholarship into blood cancer research at Queen’s University Belfast, completing his latest challenge in the Alps last month.
In a personal letter to Barry, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“You should feel incredibly proud of raising awareness of ‘Leukaemia and Lymphoma Northern Ireland’ and helping to advance their important research into blood cancer. Your charitable work is a remarkable tribute to the memory of your wife Alison and is making a real difference to patients undergoing treatment.”
Richard Buchanan, Chairman of ‘Leukaemia & Lymphoma Northern Ireland’, said:
“It’s fantastic to see Barry being recognised for all of his efforts at raising funds and awareness for the charity and blood cancers. He is an inspiration to many of our supporters facing tough times, showing that something positive can come from the most difficult periods in life.”
“I am truly humbled and honoured to receive this award but it is the generosity of the people that I accept this on their behalf. There are so many like me that have been met with adversity in their lives. We all have highs and lows through life: some mountains are harder to climb, but mountains are climbed one step at a time from bottom to top; a low point is just the beginning of a new journey. So make the most of the journey, make a difference in the world, and in the lives of other people, and make every step count. You don’t have to be the biggest shining star, every little twinkling light counts and shines light along the pathway of life. Alison was my light so I too must shine for others.”
Pictured below: Barry (centre) with his award, and Richard Buchanan, Chairman of ‘Leukaemia and Lymphoma Northern Ireland’ (left), and Harmony Black (right), PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast whose research is funded through Barry’s fundraising