The Friends of St. Ita’s hosted another very enjoyable get-together with some of their many supporters on Monday night 10th September at St. Ita’s. Chairman, Fergus Scanlan, explained that these occasions, which have become a regular feature of the fundraising campaign, are organised periodically by the Friends in conjunction with management and staff by way of saying thanks to the various groups and individuals who run fundraisers on our behalf. And, indeed, as has been said so many times before, it is the outstanding commitment, dedication and enthusiasm on the part of these great people which have been the key to our success. And so these ‘thank you’ nights are, in some small way, our way of acknowledging and showing our grateful appreciation for that support which is so fundamental to our ongoing success. And on that note the Friends are happy to report that despite the continuing economic doom and gloom, our fundraising continues apace with the following events that have taken place since our last press release in this newspaper on 18th April last: in May the Transition Year students from Desmond College, Newcastle West, presented us with a cheque for €1,000 from their West Limerick Charity Secret Millionaire fundraiser which they had run over the year and raised €2,000 with the other €1,000 going to the Brothers of Charity, Newcastle West. So a very big thank you to the students and their teacher, Carol Liston, who put a huge amount of work into helping the students organise and run the fundraiser. Also, in May, Tom Dore of Ashford, ably assisted by Margaret Hennessy and others, ran a very successful card game in Rathhenagh Community Hall and raised €2,100 which was divided between the Friends of St. Ita’s and Rathfredagh Cheshire Home and for which the Friends say a very grateful thank you, and especially to Tom and Margaret and also to Willie O’Brien and his Community Hall committee for helping out on the night and for providing the venue free of charge. In June John Joe Nash, Coolyroe, Castle-mahon, organised a sponsored walk in Castlemahon (already reported on in detail in this newspaper on 1st August). The event was a resounding success and raised €7,753, bringing John Joe’s fundraising total to date for the Friends of St. Ita’s to the staggering amount of almost €30,000 which is a phenomenal achievement for a man who is due to celebrate his 80th birthday next year. Needless to say, we are eternally grateful to John Joe and to the great team of people who support him and who have, I might add, played a vital role in helping him over the years to achieve this outstanding success. Since June we have had further fundraisers (Bedpush in Askeaton and White Collar Boxing in Feenagh) which have not yet been finalised and these will be reported on at a future date. Also upcoming is our annual Limerick Women’s Mini Marathon, for which we hope to feature a sizeable team and for whom we would very much appreciate your kind support. Once again our very grateful thanks to all our fundraisers and to all who support them so generously.

In relation to our current project – the new 20 bed rehab unit – we are delighted to report that it is progressing according to plan with the construction phase expected to start before the end of the year and commissioning within 12 months thereafter. This will be of tremendous benefit to the community and most importantly, it will have no ongoing revenue implications, as the existing staff will run it. So, very much a goodnews story for West Limerick.

Finally, going back to our Monday night get-together, the Friends would like to say a very special thank you to Chef Eddie O’Connell and his staff, Breda Muckell, Marian Nolan and Mary Buicke, for the beautiful food served on the night and for looking after the guests so well and with such courtesy and professionalism. In keeping, I might add, with their usual very high standards and very much a credit to St. Ita’s. And, indeed, I would further add, it is those standards, which are replicated throughout the hospital by the staff at every level, that have earned St. Ita’s Community Hospital its reputation of excellence throughout the community and far beyond. And, as the Friends, we are both proud and delighted to be associated with that great name.

Once many thanks to each and everyone and as ever our very grateful thanks to the staff at the Weekly Observer for their ongoing very kind support.