'Stranger' to run second marathon at Great Limerick Run for six-year-old Cathal

Donal O'Regan


Donal O'Regan

If you see Hugh Watters in his top with Cathal’s face give him a cheer!

If you see Hugh Watters in his top with Cathal’s face give him a cheer!

FRESH from completing the London Marathon in record hot temperatures, Hugh Watters is going to go through the pain barrier again in the Great Limerick Run – all for a mum and son he hasn’t even met.

Catherine Griffin, aged 34, from Ballyneety told the Limerick Leader last November how she had “nowhere to turn” having waited over two years for respite care for her autistic son, Cathal.

Catherine, a single mother, gave up her career to be the full-time carer for her six-year-old boy. She also has another son, Joey, aged four.

Little did Catherine know that her story was being read far and wide. Hugh, from Belfast, applied for the London Marathon for the first time. There is a one in 25 chance of being accepted in the ballot but Hugh was one of the lucky ones. He had previously run marathons for big charities but wanted to do something different.

“There are thousands of people of doing it for the big charities. I said I would actually love to run and make a difference for a family or for one person,” said Hugh, who spoke to his fiancée Edel Scanlon, from Bohermore. Edel and Catherine went to primary school together.  

“Edel showed me the article from the Leader. I read it and I was just blown away by Catherine. What she has actually given up to take care of her son, and very selflessly done that and very happy to do that. I said if I can’t help somebody like this who could I help,” said Hugh.

As well as running in London for Catherine and Cathal, he decided to continue the Treaty links by taking part in the Great Limerick Run. Hugh set up a Just Giving page saying “Cathal is autistic but lacks the professional support needed to help him reach his potential”.

All monies will go towards paying for private speech and language therapy.

“Running a marathon is one thing but maybe if I ran two in two weeks that might raise awareness a little bit more.  I can’t wait to put my Cathal top on and hopefully a few people recognise me and donate on Sunday,” said Hugh, who is 46. Afterwards, once he has caught his breath, he can’t wait to meet Catherine, Cathal and Joey.

Catherine said she was incredibly touched by Hugh’s gesture and thanked him for his generosity. “He doesn’t realise what an amazing thing he is doing. He is a very humble guy. He said it is all for Cathal but I do believe he deserves recognition for what he is doing,” said Catherine.

Log onto https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/hugh-watters to donate.