Meet The Charities.

Trip Start Mar 16, 2004
Trip End Jun 13, 2004

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Where I stayed
Grand Orange lodge

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Thursday, February 19, 2004

Many, if not most of you will not have heard of these charities before. Therefore before I set of on my cycle adventure I would like to briefly introduce you to the organizations I want to benefit from my pedal power and why I chose them.

The Foyle Hospice
The Foyle Hospice provides care and help for terminally ill people and their families. It is now very much a part of the community in Derry and the surrounding area including Inishowen in Co. Donegal and parts of Co. Tyrone. I'm sure, like me, most people wonder how we ever managed without it.

The people of the Northwest have Dr Tom McGinley to thank for organising the effort which got the Foyle Hospice up ad running. After visiting a terminally ill young man he realised how poorly the Health Service catered for the person and his family. Dr McGinley rose to the challenge and fundraising began in 1983. The people of the Northwest adopted the project and by 1985 a hospice home care programme was started. Continued fund raising allowed the opening of the in-patient unit in 1991 on a site purchased from the Grand Orange Lodge.

The Hospice occupies an absolutely beautiful site on the shores of the River Foyle right by (symbolically so) the Foyle Bridge. It is surrounded by parkland.

I can remember some of the initial fundraising, it seems like every person in Derry was buying a brick in the building. The reason I think this is such a good charity to support is that our family have benefited from the dedication, professionalism and compassion of the Foyle Hospice staff. My mother died of cancer there in November 1997. She was there for two periods of a month each, and for a while it really was like a second home for us. Initially I had feared that the hospice would be a very sad and depressing place. How wrong I was.

The building itself looks very dwelling like, the interior is warmly and welcomingly decorated and the staff are like friends. With friends and family of the residents coming and going it did not feel like the lonely place I was expecting at all.

I have always intended to do a little to help raise some money for the hospice to repay them for their kindness. It is still run mostly by charitable donations from the public.

For more information about the Foyle Hospice visit

The Donegal Hospice
I am not so familiar with the Donegal Hospice but Dr McGinley also works for it so I have complete faith in it. It is situated in Letterkenny near the hospital and serves the people of Donegal except for Inishowen which is served by the Foyle Hospice. The Donegal Hospice movement was established in 1988 and began providing hospice services in 1989.

The in patient unit was funded by a fund raising effort in Donegal so it is also kept going by the charitable donations of the people it serves. I am sure that many families in Donegal have benefited greatly from the compassion and care provided by the staff of the Donegal Hospice.

I am currently nearing the end of my career break from the Northwestern Health Board. I worked in Donegal Town for 8 years and lived there for 7 years. I think it is only right and proper that I put something back into the county where I earned my living for so long and will return to in a few months time.

Concern traces its origins back to the famine in Biafra Nigeria in 1968. In June 1968 a group calling itself "Africa Concern" launched an appeal for the people of Ireland to send a ship full of aid to the suffering people. In three months quarter a million pounds was raised (this was 1968 remember, how much is that today??) and a ship was purchased and set sail in September 1968. Incidetally, the ship was called SS Colmcille. Some of you may know that St Colmcille is the patron saint of Derry, and is often credited with founding our wee town about 1500 years ago.

The ship landed in Sao Tome, an island off the Nigerian coast, and the aid was smuggled into Biafra on night flights. Aid continued and eventually things began to improve. The fledgling organisation responded to the human suffering in the refugee camps in Calcutta in 1970and the name was changed to Concern. Today it works in 26 countries helping in both long term and emergency projects.

I want to support Concern because they help people to help themselves. I have meet people who have worked with Concern and have heard about the great work they do. Importantly these people go abroad with a very open mind, knowing that they are guests in a country.
About 10 years ago I was also very interested in applying to Concern as a volunteer. Unfortunately it coincided with the time my mother was very ill. For various reasons since them I have never quite got around to it. I have the greatest of respect for the people who do work overseas with Concern and every other aid organisation. Perhaps in the future I will see if I have any skills that may be of benifit to such an organisation.

Check out the website for more information about all aspects of Concern's Work.
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