Una McGuinness (left), Linda Donnelly, Paula Townley and Mary Howard at the 2022 coffee morning at Stand House Restaurant, Bellewstown racecourse, as part of Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice, one of Ireland’s biggest fundraisers. Register to host a coffee morning on Thursday, September 21 or on a date that suits you, at: www.hospicecoffeemorning.ie or call: 0818 995 996. Picture: Conor McCabe.
Bellewstown mum-of-two Linda Donnelly has been hosting coffee mornings in aid of the East Meath Hospice Association for 28 years and is now seeing three generations of families attend the annual event.
Linda and her team of supporters have raised over €40,000 for the Hospice to provide palliative care for people in their homes in their final days.
As the event escalated, she moved the Bewley's Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice last year to the Stand House Restaurant at Bellewstown Racecourse which proved so successful, it will be held again there this year on Thursday, September 21 from 10.30am to 12.30pm.
"We were running the event for years in Bellewstown Parish until Covid-19 hit and we had to rethink things," said Linda.
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"People were so supportive that they were ringing me up and buying lines for raffle tickets over the phone.
"We decided to hold the coffee morning in Bellewstown Racecourse’s Stand House Restaurant last year and it was a huge success.
“We raised over €3,000. So we are going back there this year as it holds more people and has great accessibility for the community.
“The whole community of Bellewstown and surrounding areas club together and they will either bake or donate or leaflet drop to help. Every euro goes to the Hospice.
"We have table cloths and flowers and everyone helps to make the room look really inviting and special.
"It's become a real community social event and now people who used to come with their mothers are arriving with their own children as well which is lovely to see.
"The only problem is that people never get home! There is always someone trying to leave who will spot someone arriving that they haven't seen for ages and a refill to the cup is needed," she laughed.
"It can also be very reflective. We have all lost someone and they are always remembered at the coffee morning in chats with people they may not have seen since the death occurred."
Funds raised locally stay local and go back into each hospice to innovate, build new facilities, develop new services and deliver quality improvements and extra benefits for their patients and family members.
“We would like to acknowledge the debt we owe to people like Linda and her team, without them we could not continue to provide services for people with life-limiting conditions,” said Mena Ball at East Meath Hospice Association.
“For many years we have had the support of Brendan Battersby and staff in Whytes, Stamullen, John Macken and staff in The Lime Kiln, Julianstown, and Marina Reddan and staff at Reddans, Bettystown.
“There will be a Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice in all these venues on Thursday, September 21, from 10am to midday.
“All monies raised locally are spent locally to provide a comfort fund and volunteer driving service, which provides free-of-charge door-to-door transport to take patients to chemotherapy or radiotherapy.”
The nationwide fundraiser, supported by Bewley's since 1992, has raised over €43.2 million - and there is a €2 million fundraising target this year.
Together for Hospice, The National Hospice Movement, represents 26 Hospice and specialist palliative home care providers supporting patients and their families.
Register now to host a coffee morning on September 21 - or on a date that suits you - at hospicecoffeemorning.ie or call 0818 995 996. If you cannot host or attend one, you can make a donation at hospicecoffeemorning.ie/donate