Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the Brothers of Charity setting up in Newcastle West to provide a service to people in west Limerick with disabilities.

A number of events to mark the landmark were held throughout the year with the final one, the presentation of the keys of two spanking people carriers taking place recently.

The purchase of the two vehicles was funded by the West Limerick Community Workshop Fundraising Committee who have been involved with the Brothers of Charity project since its inception in 1984.

Aoife Keogh Manager of Newcastle West Adult Services on behalf of the Brothers of Charity Services said “We were delighted to receive the two new vehicles funded by the Fundraising Committee to add to our fleet. They will help to bring in the service users and take them home from work every day.”

The vehicles will be part of an eleven vehicle fleet used by the Brothers of Charity in Newcastle West. “Over the last number of years our focus has been fundraising for vehicles, we were lucky last year that the public came out in such numbers to support our annual cycle and from the proceeds we were able to purchase two vehicles. We also got some money from Tony Noonan’s Christmas Lights which we were able to put towards those cars. “It was a great surprise at the end of the year when the fundraising committee informed us that had enough money to buy two new cars.”

The Fundraising Committee came together in the early 1980s to look at providing a service for people with intellectual disabilities in the West Limerick area. There were meetings held with a number of organisations before it was decided that it would be The Brothers of Charity that would take on the role. From the beginning the group have been organising local fundraising events, e.g. card games and church gate collections, for the service. In total almost €1,000,000 has been raised by the committee for the service over the last 30 years. This money helped in the purchase of various properties in the locality. In recent times it has helped in the following ways: purchase of gym equipment; purchase of computers; purchase of multi-sensory equipment; purchase of kitchen equipment for the training room; interactive white boards; new accessible doors for the Day Service and now two new people carriers. “We first met as a group in the early 1980s, we have a very broad attitude towards people with disabilities. We did not know which direction we were going but we were adamant that we were going to do something for the disabled. After a couple of years the Brothers of Charity, who had intended on coming to west Limerick approached us, and they were willing to come on board. They asked if we would support them. They would manage and run the workshop, if we would fundraise for them, all we had to do was give a commitment that we would raise money,” explained Margaret Moran, who was a founder member of the committee and has been involved through the years to the present day. “The only stipulation was that all the monies raised in our area would have to be spent at the workshop that they were going to build in Newcastle West. We agreed and from that day we have had a very happy relationship,” Ms. Moran said.

Margaret is extremely proud to have been associated with the project all that time and watching it grow and develop. “Nobody expected anything like what it is today. It started off on a small scale in a unit in Sheehan’s Road and now 30 years on, there is a fabulous workshop catering for up to 70 service users who are well cared for, the care they get is second to none, all their needs are catered for and it is a very happy working environment.”

“For that we must thank the people of west Limerick who supported us from day one and who ran dances, functions, quizzes, we were accepting money from every area of west Limerick and still are.We are still in existence and are contributing everything we get to the workshop. We would appreciate if people would continue to support the workshop and they are always welcome to see how their money is being spent,” Ms Moran said.

Ms Keogh concluded by paying tribute to the work of the Fundraising Committee. “On behalf of the Brothers of Charity Services Limerick, I would like to once again thank the fundraising committee for all their hard work over the past 30 years. Newcastle West would not have the high class service we have today without your generous contri-butions and steadfast support. We do not underestimate the amount of time and effort that goes into fundraising. We also realise how difficult it is to fundraise in the current climate. We look forward to continuing our relationship and working with them for the next 30 years.”