McHale family to mark Gemma’s death five years on

Gemma McHale who lost her life in a crash five years ago.

Gemma McHale who lost her life in a crash five years ago.

THE family of Aghyaran woman Gemma McHale are preparing to mark five years since the 20-year-old tragically lost her life in a road crash.

Since losing Gemma on May 18 2012, the McHale family have raised around £72,000 in her memory, donating the funds to various causes.


The main fundraiser, the Gemma McHale Memorial 5K Walk/Run returns on Friday, May 12. This year’s activities will also include a memorial cycle on Sunday, May 7. Both events launch from the Aghyaran GAA Centre. The proceeds from this year’s events will support Cancer Research, Castlederg Comfort and Terminally Ill Fund and support the treatment of MS, CF and a chest, heart and stroke unit.

The donations will also continue the work of a mindfulness programme recently established by the McHale family for the benefit of local schools.

The programme has already been completed in four primary schools: St Patrick’s Castlederg, St Columba’s Clady, St Eugene’s Victoria Bridge and Edward’s Primary School in Castlederg.

The ten-week programme, which began in September, involved Julieanne Reel of Mindful Kids Ireland spending one hour per week in the schools.

“It has been a great success,” said Gemma’s mother Siobhan. “The evaluation has been very, very positive. The schools seem to want back in again, so we’re hoping to do it again this year as well.”

Three other schools are set to begin the programme this week: St Cairealls Aghyaran, Killen Primary School, and Erganagh Primary School.

“I have no doubt we’ll see the same positive response from those three schools,” said Siobhan.

The programme also provided for a mindfulness facilitator to spend a day in Holy Cross College in Strabane.

The Aghyaran woman said there had been a very positive reaction by students to John Doran from Kildare.

The entire concept for the mindfulness programme came from Gemma’s sister Joanne, who teaches in Co Mayo.

Siobhan said mindfulness helps builds resilience against anxiety and depression.  “It teaches the children about learning to cope with small problems. It provides coping strategies and helps them learn to live in the moment rather than look ahead at the problems that are there or revisiting problems they’ve had.

“It’s a tool that sets them up for life.”

The McHale family have set a target of raising a minimum of £10,000 this year and have said they would appreciate any form of donation or sponsorship.

The Gemma McHale Memorial Cycle takes place on Sunday, May 7, with 18km, 35km and 56km routes. Sign in at 9am for a 10am start from Aghyaran GAA Centre. £10 fee payable on the day. The 5K walk/run takes place at 7.30pm on Friday, May 12. Registration takes place from 7pm – 9pm in Aghyaran GAA Centre on Wednesday, May 10 and from 4.30pm – 7pm on Friday, May 12.

To register online, email

For further details, contact Peadar (cycle) on 077 6110 8943 or Kieran on 078 6753


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