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Derry couple’s 66th wedding anniversary benefits families facing crisis in Somalia

The threat of starvation for families in Somalia has prompted a big-hearted couple in Derry to celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary by raising funds for Trόcaire.

Hilda and Matt McColgan getting married in St. Eugene's Cathedral Hilda and Matt McColgan getting married in St. Eugene's Cathedral

Great-grandparents Hilda (88) and Matt (94) McColgan, from Derry City, have been life-long supporters of Trόcaire and starting with their 60th wedding anniversary in 2016, ask for donations to Trócaire in lieu of gifts.

Covid-19 restrictions meant the couple were unable to hold their usual anniversary lunch for the past two years, but this year the devastating hunger crisis in Somalia and other countries in East and the Horn of Africa spurred them on to again host their traditional lunch with family and friends at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel in Derry. This year’s recent get-together raised an amazing £1,050 for Trócaire’s work.

Hilda and Matt McColgan from Derry celebrate their 66th wedding anniversary

The couple grew up in neighbouring streets in Derry City. They went on their first date in 1948 and haven’t looked back since. They were married in St. Eugene’s Cathedral and their life together has seen them live in places including Hong Kong and Germany, but they returned to their native Derry many years ago.

Hilda said the secret to their long and happy marriage was communication. ‘You need to keep communicating all the time about everything, even things you don’t agree on, and never keep secrets from each other.’ Matt agrees and says thankfully they agree on most things.

The couple feel it has been important for them to try to do something to help others over their life together. ‘We have always been lucky in that we had enough for ourselves and so we felt we wanted to share what we had. My mother used to say that if God hadn’t given it to us then we couldn’t give it to someone else,’ Hilda said. ‘We believe passionately in the work that Trόcaire does and know that any money donated to Trόcaire will be used to best effect to help those that need it most. This is so important in a world that is so ill-divided.’

Hilda and Matt said they were particularly moved by what is happening in Somalia at the moment, where millions of people are facing starvation in the face of the worst drought in 40 years, and they knew Trócaire would be able to put their money to good use there.

Siobhan Hanley, Trόcaire’s Head of Region for Northern Ireland, said the organisation was humbled by the generosity of Hilda and Matt.

‘We are incredibly lucky to have such amazing supporters who always go the extra mile to ensure our work in 20 of the world’s poorest countries can continue. The UN has said that 22 million people are now at risk of starvation in East and the Horn of Africa. Trócaire provides the only health services in the Gedo Region of Somalia, an area larger than the island of Ireland, and the need there is only set to become greater. With the support of Hilda and Matt and others like them we will continue to be there to support the people of Somalia and the wider region in this crisis.’

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