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Antrim businessman takes on double marathon challenge for Children’s Cancer Unit

An Antrim businessman has set himself the challenge of running over 55 miles from Portrush to Belfast in under 12 hours to raise funds for The Children’s Cancer Unit Charity, based at The Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Barry Mairs, Managing Director of GBS Roofing, based in Antrim, will run from Portrush East Strand to the doors of the children’s hospital on Friday 4 September.

The Children’s Cancer Unit is the only place in Northern Ireland where children can receive specialist treatment for cancer. Children affected by cancer and blood disorders are treated and cared for by a team of experienced and devoted medical professionals and staff.

Barry’s 55 mile route, which is further than two marathons combined, will take him via Ballymoney, Dunloy, Cullybackey, Ballymena, Antrim, Parkgate, Templepatrick and Belfast before arriving at the hospital at around 4pm.

Barry Mairs, Managing Director, GBS Roofing said:

“Charities are facing huge fundraising challenges at the moment, so it is important that we continue to help in any way we can. The Children’s Cancer Unit provides vital specialist care and support to children and their families during the most difficult time of their lives.

“GBS Roofing had adopted The Children’s Cancer Unit as its charity for 2020 but the pandemic meant some of our fundraising events had to be postponed. This 55 mile run will hopefully help us to achieve our target in a safe, socially distanced way.

“Our aim is to raise £4000 to provide the Children’s Cancer Unit with an interactive robot for the classroom. This robot allows children who are living with cancer to experiencesome normality by helping with their return to schooling, as well as supporting their mental and social wellbeing.

“After just a few months of lockdown, I’m sure we can all appreciate how important returning to normality is, especially for children with cancer who have to socially distance year after year. I know these are difficult times for many people so any donation you can give will be very much appreciated.”

Speaking ahead of the gruelling challenge, Jacqueline Wilkinson from the Children’s Cancer Unit Charity added:

“This has been an incredibly difficult time for the charitable sector, so we are really grateful for Barry’s support - and bravery - in raising vital funds for the Children’s Cancer Unit. Throughout the pandemic, families have continued to learn the devastating news that their children have a cancer diagnosis and need of our support now more than ever.

“We hope anyone who lives along the route will give him a cheer if they spot him on the 4th September. We send our best wishes to Barry ahead of the big day and look forward to welcoming him across the finish line at the hospital.”

Barry is no stranger to competitive sport and endurance events. In his youth he was Northern Ireland karate champion, representing NI in European competitions.

After several years of playing rugby for Antrim, Ballymena and Holywood, and completing the Belfast and London marathons, he took up triathlons and is now a three-time Ironman having completed the gruelling global endurance events in Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

Donations can be made via www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gbs-roofing-ltd2020 or by going to the JustGiving homepage and typing GBS Roofing into the search box.

About The Children’s Cancer Unit Charity: https://childrenscancerunit.com

About GBS Roofing: https://www.gbsroofing.co.uk