The chairman Fergus Scanlan would like to say a big thank you to the following groups who organised fundraisers for them in recent months. Firstly, the Carrigkerry Wren Boys raised €3,000 over the Christmas period which was divided between the Friends and five other charities each getting €500.So our very grateful thanks to Donie Nolan and the other members of Carrigkerry Wren Boys for organising this fundraiser, which, I might add, is one of a number run by this group over the years for the Friends including a variety concert in 2004 which raised the staggering sum of €14,000 for our Hospice Fund. Also over the Christmas period members of Kostal Sports and Leisure Club, Abbeyfeale, ran a Christmas hamper raffle and raised €1,300 which was divided between the Friends of St. Ita’s and the Butterfly Club, so a big thank you to the members of Kostal Sports and Leisure Club for this and indeed many other very generous donations to our fund-raising campaign over the years. In February Donal O’Grady brought his old dance band ‘The Legionnaires’ back together again for a Valentine’s fundraising dance at Rathkeale House Hotel in aid of the Friends of St Ita’s and the Butterfly Club and raised €800 for the two charities. Again our sincere thanks to Donal and the members of his band for kindly coming back from retirement to do this fundraiser.

On 21st March the Arra Players from Newcastle West performed 3 one-act plays at the Courtenay Lodge Hotel, Newcastle West, which was the opening night of a series of four nights’ perform-ances at this venue. The proceeds of €400 from the night were donated to the Friends of St. Ita’s, so again our very grateful thanks to Angela Doyle, chairperson, and all the members of her drama group for this kind gesture.

Needless to say, both the Friends management and staff at St. Ita’s are exceedingly grateful to all of these groups for their on-going support and generosity, particularly so in the face of these very tough economic times in which fundraising has become increasingly difficult. And so all the more merit and credit to all the great people who continue to take on the challenge of fundraising on our behalf. Also I hasten to add, not only do we owe a huge debt of gratitude to these wonderful people but also to all of our fantastic supporters for their continued loyalty and outstanding generosity which are the hallmark of our unparalleled success which has seen us raise in excess of €3.23 million over the last 9 years since our formation in 2003.This funding has financed (either in whole or in part) many of the major improvements which have taken place at St. Ita’s over that time, all of which have already been well documented over the years. And in this regard the Friends are delighted to report that our €1.2 million new Rehab Project (as detailed in previous press releases in the Weekly Observer) is currently underway with the building phase due to start by next October/November. This will be another major benefit and a further enhancement of the already excellent services being provided at St. Ita’s for the patients at present resident here and indeed those into the future. And so we would point out all of these very positive developments serve to strengthen and underpin the long-term viability of this excellent facility which forms such an important part of the fabric of this community. Finally our sincere thanks to all of our many great fundraisers and supporters and a very special word of thanks to our great friend John Joe Nash who is organising his Castle-mahon/Cooleyroe spon-sored walk for the third year on 24th June next, ably assisted by his good friend Willie Cussen.Lastly, we would like to extend our very sincere sympathy to our very good friend Nora O’Keeffe, Ballingarry, on the recent death of both her sister, Elizabeth Goff and Denis Goff, Elizabeth’s husband. Go dtuga Dia suaimhneas sioraí da anamacha uasal. As always our most grateful thanks to the staff of the Weekly Observer for their on-going very kind support. Needless to say, it is hugely appre-ciated.