For the first time in its history, the Drogheda and North East Branch of Samaritans will host the Irish Regional Conference of Samaritans this year.
Approximately 200 delegates from throughout the island of Ireland will be in Drogheda from Friday, April 13th to Sunday, April 15th to attend the conference.
During the event, the branch will be aiming to shine an even stronger light on the Samaritans message and strengthen its position as one of the leading charities in the fight to ensure that less people die by suicide.
The conference theme is ‘The Power Within’ and there will be two high-profile keynote speakers at the event – Dr Harry Barry, who is based in Drogheda, and Irish international rugby player Hannah Tyrrell.
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During the weekend conference in the City North Hotel, there will be workshops that will give volunteers an insight into other areas of the organisation.
As Samaritans is not only about its callers, workshops - including yoga, meditation, reflexology, massage and Tai Chi - will be available for the visitors and these will focus on the holistic approach to caring for themselves also.
There will also be a social aspect to the weekend and visitors will be given ample opportunity to explore all that Drogheda has to offer.
Indeed Drogheda’s rich history played an important part in the bid submission with places of interest to visit – including the Shrine of St Oliver Plunkett at St Peter’s Church, Mellifont Abbey, Newgrange, St Laurence’s Gate, Millmount and the Battle of the Boyne site – featuring prominently.
Director of Drogheda & North East branch of Samaritans, Pat Mulholland, said this is fantastic news, not just for the branch but also for the town.
“We would like to thank the Conference Committee members who were involved in the bid process and sold Drogheda as a town worthy of holding a conference this size,” said Mr Mulholland.
“With so many visitors from all over the island of Ireland coming to the town, this will be a great opportunity to showcase all that Drogheda has to offer.
“Last year’s event was held in Craigavon and a few volunteers from our branch attended. It gave us a taste of what we can expect in Drogheda this year.
“As soon as we received official notification that the conference was coming to Drogheda in 2018, we kick-started our preparations and these will intensify over the coming months.”
Mr Mulholland added: “The aim of the conference will be to address a range of issues in the area of mental health, with ‘The Power Within’ theme at the core, and give the visitors a very positive message, and some new ideas to bring back to their respective branches countrywide.”
The branch is hoping that the local business community - which has been very supportive of its work over the last two decades – will make an extra special effort to get behind the conference.
This is a major coup for the branch which was formed in 1996 with a handful of local people and two phones but has grown into a thriving organisation providing a vital service in communities in Louth, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan.
The local branch comprises a dedicated team of approximately 100 volunteers, and is widely regarded for its high quality standard of work.