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District’s generosity drives fundraiser on

With an annual sum of around £2M to keep the Southern Area Hospice functioning, fundraising is an integral part of the hospice’s year to year survival. One of its main fundraising events for over 20 years has been its annual dinner dance attracting around 300 people each year and raising thousands of pounds in the process. But in recent years as everyone feels the economic pinch the event has seen a dramatic turn down in funds. In 2008 the popular dance raised an amazing £65,000 but three years later in 2011 it dropped to £25,000 a phenomenal amount but well down on previous years and has raised questions on whether the event should or could continue under the current financial climate. However any thoughts of abandoning the 23 year old event were shot down quickly by committee member mainstay Irene Holland. The 79 year old joined the St John of God’s Dinner Dance Committee back in 1973 and was on the committee when it became the Hospice Dinner Dance in 1989. As the committee once again prepare for this year’s event in the Canal Court Hotel Irene told the Democrat that it’s vital to continue the event despite current financial hardships: “It had to go on. You can’t let something go just because we are going through some hard times. Fundraising is absolutely vital to the hospice and the people of Newry have always been very supportive of the event and we hope they continue to do so.” Irene hailed the hospice for not only providing an invaluable service to people suffering from cancer and their families but easing the burden on Daisy Hill Hospital across the city: “The hospice has relieved Daisy Hill of all of the patients that would be in the hospital that could not have been looked after. It relieves the bed situation because Daisy Hill is and acute hospital and while the nurses are fantastic they just don’t have the same time to spend with people who are terminally ill. These patients need a different form of medical treatment such as pain management, emotional needs etc.” Irene said the dinner dance is not only a vital fundraising tool for the hospice but also a major social opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones and urged people to continue supporting the event. It is fantastic and I wouldn’t miss it. It’s a great occasion and a fantastic way to raise money for the hospice,” she added. Dr Petrina Flood the current chairperson of the Dinner Dance Committee, described Irene as a valuable part of the committee: ” From the dance committee’s point of view I would have to say that Irene as time moves on and  things change remains a wise owl who has been there, knows the story and history of the committee and therefore reminds all of us of the best way of running things. Her constant input is so important to us. The hospice is an invaluable service to the GPs and to the hospital and of course the patients themselves and the way it functions annually is no small part to people like Irene who dedicate so much of their time to raising vital funds for it.”


Newry Democrat

28th February 2012