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Bewleys Big Coffee Morning to raise funds for Milford Hospice takes place Thursday, September 22

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Bewleys Big Coffee Morning for Milford Hospice – Pictured above are Anne Marie Hayes and Melissa Purcell of Milford Hospice with actor Brendan Gleeson and Sarah Kiely (second from right)

Limerick councillor Sarah Kiely urges the public to get behind coffee morning to raise funds for Milford Hospice

Limerick councillor Sarah Kiely is asking people to register to host a coffee morning on Thursday, September 22 as part of the Bewleys Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice to raise much-needed funds for Milford Hospice.

Staging a Facebook Live ‘cook-a-long’ through Covid-19 lockdowns gave a Limerick widow the idea of a drive-thru coffee morning to help the Hospice which enabled her husband to pass away close to his home and family.

Having Milford Care Centre on their doorstep meant that Sarah Kiely didn’t have to bring her children and family 200km to a Dublin Hospital to say their final goodbyes to her husband Damien O’Shaughnessy. Damien, 45, tragically passed away from a rare form of liver cancer in October 2018, only nine months after diagnosis, leaving Sarah and their two children Emily and Tiernan devastated.

The Bewleys Big Coffee Morning is a nationwide event, which has raised over €41.5 million since its inception, and this year celebrates its 30th anniversary. “We were told from day one that Damien’s cancer was curative, and I still remember vividly all the medical terms used when we sat in the consultant’s room for the first time,” she said.

“We were told that St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin was the best place for his treatment, so we had to spend a lot of time up there, away from the kids.  It was very tough on them and even now, I still find it hard to explain away even though we had to do it to try and make him better.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, and the last few weeks of Damien’s life were very traumatic. He became unconscious at home and was rushed to Limerick Hospital and then onto St Vincent’s where he had been scheduled for a procedure on his lungs to make him more comfortable and extend his life.

“But when we got there, I was told to gather the family up from Janesboro in Limerick City to say goodbye. I thought there was no way I was bringing my children and family the long journey up, so far from home, to see him for the last time.

“I was very, very lucky to get a bed in Milford Hospice. It meant that Damien was able to spend his last few days in his home county and close to those who were his world.”

Together for Hospice, The National Hospice Movement represents 26 Hospice and specialist palliative home care providers supporting patients and their families nationwide. Funds raised locally stay local and go back into each local hospice service, helping to pay for medical and general staff, palliative care beds, home care visits, specialist equipment and new hospice builds. 

“It was very traumatic for the children who were just 13 and 17 at the time and I had to explain to them what a Hospice was and that they were going to have to say their final farewell to their dad,” said Sarah. “Every second of those days, the staff at the hospice were phenomenal and were there to act as a buffer zone for everything. They treat the person there and not the illness and they take care of everything so families can concentrate on spending the final moments with their loved ones. Little did I know when Damien died that Milford Hospice would be giving my mam palliative care just a year later.”

In 2019, Sarah was elected to Limerick City and County Council and when Covid-19 hit, she communicated with her constituents through social media. “I worked as a chef for years, so I decided for the craic to do a Facebook Live Cook-a-Long baking school each day at 5 pm where I baked brownies, scones and other pastries. “People loved it and often asked me again for the recipes so I realised that I could put my baking skills and as well as the talents of all those who baked online with me, to good use.

“So, I decided to hold a drive-thru coffee morning in the local Church car park in 2020 to give back to Milford Hospice for all they had given me.  We held another coffee morning last year in the local soccer club, but we are going back to the drive-thru format this year as people really loved it. People in the area were only too willing to bake for the event and buy from it to help a service that unfortunately, we will all need at some stage in our lives.”

Hosts are provided with a free Coffee Morning Pack containing Bewley’s coffee, posters, and invitations.

To register to host a coffee morning on Thursday, September 22nd, or on a date that suits you, go HERE

For more stories on Milford Hospice, go HERE

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.

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