Hooves for Hospice

The midlands – Laois, Offaly, Longford and Westmeath – is the only region in Ireland that does not have a level three hospice.

Hooves4Hospice was set up in January 2020 to raise vital funds towards the cost of building the much needed Midland Regional Hospice.

The ongoing fundraiser aims to raise €1m and have at least 1,000 animals committed to the project before finish; with almost 470 animals being reared by volunteer farmers to date.

The project involves recruiting farmers from across the country to donate and/or rear an animal. Ideally, the donated animals will remain on the farm of origin for rearing, but where necessary the animals will be assigned to a host farm.

It is intended that host farmers will not incur any costs over and above that of accommodating the animals in their herds. Any non-routine veterinary costs will be covered by Tullamore Lions Club. Ensuring biosecurity is adhered to, only BVD-free animals can be selected for this project.

When ready for market, the entire proceeds of the animal sale will be donated to help fund the hospice construction.

Further to the generosity of the participating farmers, local students, parents and teachers alike have come together, to raise funds for the worthy cause. One such effort is that of Banagher College in Co Offaly, where teachers and students have organised a Hooves4Hospice raffle with a number of worthwhile prizes. This raffle will take place on Wednesday 19 May. Tickets for the raffle can be purchased on iDonate.

To get involved or make a donation please contact h4h@midlandhospice.ie.

–Irene Bermingham

Donations can be made directly to Hooves4Hospice online here.


Agribusiness keeping the air ambulance flying in Northern Ireland

The Northern Irish air ambulance service (AANI), which relies heavily on charity funding, needs to raise £2m a year to sustain itself and develop. The service responds to critically ill and injured patients on average twice a day and can be the difference between life and death.

Glenn O’Rorke, operational lead for the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) said: “Our very first call out was to a farming incident and farming and agricultural incidents account for up to 11% of call outs. This includes accidents involving farm machinery, slurry or cattle. Unfortunately, on average, there is a farming call every week with no decrease through the pandemic.”

With this in mind and to support the AANI, an “agribusiness group” has been established. Co Down farmer and trustee of AANI, Barclay Bell, is one of the farmers involved in this initiative. When president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), Barclay helped raise £200,000 for the charity.

“This life-saving service is already a major benefit to farmers and rural communities,” he says. “In isolated areas it can be difficult for medical services to reach, treat and transport people.

“The air ambulance helps tackle that and aims to save lives, brains and limbs. Fundraising has been hit hard with the pandemic, yet we know there is a strong supporter base and willingness to help in rural communities. We hope the agribusiness group will help harness that for the charity.”

If you would like to donate, organise an event or could spare some time volunteering, please contact Air Ambulance NI by email at info@airambulanceni.org or call 028 9262 2677.

– Amii McKeever


Befriending Network Ireland

Led by ALONE, Befriending Network Ireland is a national support network which provides training and resources to those befriending isolated and elderly individuals. Now with more than 60 befriending organisations affiliated throughout Ireland, it was first piloted in 2008 by Befriending Mayo (through Castlebar Social Services). It was due to its success that ALONE then launched the programme nationwide.

“Castlebar Social Services is a limited company, not for profit with charitable statue,” says manager Deirdre Waldron. “Staffing through different schemes, and volunteers are a huge part of what we do and why we’re successful. We have a pool of about 40 volunteers, and without them we couldn’t run the service. Many of our volunteers are retired people who have the time to help.”

Deirdre says with many of their volunteers being retired nurses, in particular they have been able to provide services to elderly people.

“They are able to check in with people, especially after they get out of hospital,” she explains. “We can ring the GPs or chemists to double check queries for them. We found a lot of older people were becoming institutionalised quickly after hospital stays.”

Befriending Mayo also helps vulnerable rural dwellers access services in Castlebar, even if they don’t drive.

“We have a bus service to connect people in different areas of Castlebar – to get their shopping or hair done and have a meal in our Centre,” she says. “We also host different activities such as day trips and in the winter we have indoor activities.”

The group regularly receives kind messages from family members living away, who haven’t been able to get to Mayo to visit.

“The families found it wonderful that someone was checking in on their elderly parent. It’s all about being there to chat – it’s a wonderful service.”

To find out more or get involved, visit castlebarsocialservices.com

– Janine Kennedy


Cliona’s Foundation

Cliona was 16 when she passed away in 2006 from an inoperable brain tumour. In her memory, her parents Brendan and Terry Ring setup Cliona’s Foundation.

Cliona’s Foundation has raised in excess of €2m, helping almost 900 families to date. The charity is Limerick based, but works nationwide, having worked with families in every county in Ireland.

It provides financial assistance to families with children who have life limiting conditions or complex care needs. The charity focuses on providing funding to parents to help with non-medical expenses.

Speaking with Irish Country Living, Cliona’s father Brendan explains how they came to set up the charity.

“It wasn’t really an idea at all, it was more a matter of fact. It was something that we saw on our journey with Cliona. She had a brain tumour and she required a lot of hospital visits over the eight years while she had the condition.

“There were an awful lot of families travelling to hospital on an ongoing basis with really sick children. The one thing that always struck us was the amount of additional costs there were; spending large amounts of time away from work, being in hospital day in, day out with sick children, making appointments and all the costs that are associated with that.

“It got us thinking about who took care of the home, in relation to other siblings and all the bills at home that remain.

“After Cliona died, we just wanted to do something in her memory, as a thank you to everybody who helped us. It really only started as an initial fundraiser and we started helping these families we had met. All of sudden, we found there was a huge demand and we haven’t stopped working since.”

Cliona’s Foundation covers an array of expenses placed on parents of sick children. These include rent, food, utility bills, transportation to chemotherapy and alternative therapies, a treat for a sibling and it even covers some of the cost of a funeral.

In 2020 Cliona’s Foundation distributed €164,000 to 110 families in 24 counties across Ireland.

It relies 100% on income raised through fundraising, corporate donations, philanthropy, private donations and partnerships with other charities.

To donate to Cliona’s Foundation click here.

– Anne O’Donoghue