On Thursday night 19th December the Friends of St. Ita’s celebrated another most enjoyable Christmas get together with some of their many fundraisers who were treated to a veritable feast of all sorts of delicious food prepared by the wonderful kitchen staff under the guidance of their great chef Eddie O’Connell, who, as always, spared no effort in ensuring all tastes were catered for on the night. The occasion, which also marked the presentation of a number of very generous cheques, brought to a close the end of another most successful fundraising year for the Friends. The highlight of which, explained Chairman Fergus Scanlan, was of course the launch of the long awaited two million new 22 bedded rehab project on 5th November last (covered at length in our press release in the Weekly Observer at the time). This, said Fergus, is a fantastic achievement, not only for the Friends but, indeed, for the entire community whose support and generosity was hugely instrumental in bringing about this success, not to mention the extraordinarily generous injection of three quarters of a million euro funding from JP McManus, which ultimately guaran-teed that success. Needless to say, this is also great news from a fundraising point of view in that it gives fresh impetus to our fundraising campaign and more importantly still, it serves to demonstrate transparency and account-ability on our part in relation to the expenditure of such public funds entrusted to us towards the implementation of ongoing improvement of services and conditions for the patients in St. Ita’s. Indeed, the Chairman continued, this policy has always been our number one priority from day one and has ser-ved us well in establishing the Friends as a very credible and trustworthy charity which in turn has had a major influence on our huge fundraising success to date, that see us with a balance in excess of €3.38 million after almost 11 years on since our formation back in March 2003. Sadly the need for such accountability has become ever more apparent in light of recent revelations in the media surrounding the misuse of charitable funds in certain quarters as reported. And so as the Friends of St. Ita’s we would like once again to reassure our very many generous supporters of our absolute commit-ment to total accountability and to this end we will very gladly make our records available to anyone who might wish to see them. In relation to the new rehab unit work is well underway and is expected to be completed and ready for use by the end of the year, which, as stated in our last press release, will be of tre-mendous benefit to the patients from the com-munity availing of these services. Regarding our fundraising, the Friends would like to say a very sincere thank you to the following groups who ran fundraisers for us since our last get together in September and these are as follows: in September Eddie Walsh and members of the former Cloud 9 band came back together for a reunion which they ran as a fundraiser for the Friends and raised €320. In October a team of 14 kind ladies did the Limerick Women’s M.M. and raised €5,627. In November Brendan Woulfe, Chairman of Rathkeale Bridge Club gave a cheque for €1,000 from a charity bridge night that he organised for the Friends. In November the Friends and the Newcastle West Agricultural Show committee ran our 7th annual fashion show which raised €4,349 (after expenses) which was divided between the two organisations. In December Lucia and Stephen Coughlan ran their 6th annual ‘Santa in his Sleigh’ fundraiser and raised another €7,200 for the Friends. So a huge thank you to these two great people and their wonderful team and indeed to all who sponsored them and to all who contributed so generously yet again. Also in December Tournafulla GAA presented a cheque for €1,200 from their 2012 wrenboy fundraiser for the Friends and Tournafulla Church fundraising a total of €2,400 divided between both. Lastly in December Crinniú Music Group ran a wrenboy fundraiser in UL from which the Friends of St. Ita’s Comfort Fund received €435. Once again the Friends would like to say a very grateful thank you to all these wonderful people for running these events and to all who supported them so generously, which, needless to say, is hugely appreciated, especially in the current very tough economic climate. And finally the Friends would like to wish all of our very loyal supporters a very happy, prosperous and healthy New Year with very special good wishes to our great friend and wonderful fundraiser John Joe Nash, who is at present in St. Ita’s and whom we likewise wish a speedy recovery to full health. Also our very best wishes to another great friend Nora O’Keeffe, Ballingarry, and her husband Denis. Lastly our ever grateful thanks to the staff of the Weekly Observer for all their wonderful support throughout the year and indeed from the very word go back in 2003 and to the patients of St. Ita’s go our very best wishes and our promise to continue with our fundraising endeavours to further enhance the already very high standards of care and comfort which are currently enjoyed by all the patients at St. Ita’s.