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Grapevine’s Gordy in Ironman challenge in memory of friend brought home by Kevin Bell Trust

Gordon's friend Kevin Higgins died in February but had always said that he wished to be buried back home in Ireland

Gordon Hamill and Kevin Higgins
Gordon Hamill and Kevin Higgins (inset)

The man behind a popular Lurgan good news page is set to lace up his running shoes and don his wetsuit as he prepares to take part in the Cork Ironman Triathlon this weekend.

Gordon Hamill is the man behind The Lurgan Grapevine, a popular community page which he says is all about “promoting positivity” and sharing good news stories in the Lurgan area.

He is raising funds for the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, the charity which brought his friend Kevin Higgins back home after he died of a heart attack in Sweden.

The Cork Ironman, which takes place on Sunday, August 20, will be a gruelling challenge, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle and a 26.2 mile run.

When all is said and done, Gordon will have completed a whopping 140.6 miles!

He’s no stranger to long-distance running, however, having completed a number of endurance events over the years.

While Gordon says he normally likes to keep his races “under the radar”, this time, as he is doing it in memory of Kevin, he wants to raise as much awareness as possible and hopefully raise a bit of money in the process.

Kevin Higgins’ remains were brought back to Ireland by the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust

Kevin Higgins died in February, but had always said that he wished to be buried back home in Derry.

After Kevin’s sudden passing, a fundraiser was launched by his family in aid of the Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, which to this day has raised over £18,000.

With this personal experience with his friend in mind, Gordon decided that the Kevin Bell Trust was a fitting charity to support as part of the challenge.

So far, Gordon’s campaign has raised over £900 towards the Trust.

Speaking on his friendship with Kevin, Gordon said that they met at Magee University when Gordon was at a “particularly low point” in his life.

“At a time when people didn’t know much about mental health, big Kevin seemed to instinctively know the right things to say. He was the right friend at the right time,” said Gordon.

Despite losing touch with Kevin after university, Gordon reached out to Derry City FC after Kevin’s brother Ruaidhrí became manager of the club.

Gordon managed to get hold of Kevin’s number and found that Kevin had been working as a mental health counsellor in Sweden.

Said Gordon: “I then got the terrible news a few months ago that Kevin had died of a heart attack in Sweden. Kevin had said that if anything happened to him he would like to be buried at home in Ireland.

“That’s where the fantastic Kevin Bell Trust comes in.”

Gordon says he has been training between 12 and 16 hours a week in the build up to the triathlon, including a cycle to Derry and back accompanied with nothing but luggage on his back.

“Every Sunday it’s been a four hour cycle for the past three months,” he explained.

Gordon took part in the Ironman last year, although he unfortunately failed to finish it.

He admits he has “no guarantee” of finishing this year, but feels it would be good to raise some money in the process.

“The big fella’s name might just drive me over the line,” he said.

You can donate to Gordon’s appeal using his JustGiving link here.

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