Donegal News; Report on awareness event in Letterkenny (published 7th Jan 2011)

‘ST LUKE’S CELEBRATION CUP: CHARITY AND AWARENESS EVENT’

A successful charity soccer tournament was held in Letterkenny last week. The event was organised in order to raise awareness of the government’s plan to close St Luke’s Cancer Hospital in Rathgar, while at the same time it raised money to purchase patients’ comforts for the hospital itself.

On the day, 20 teams took part, with Finn Harps winning an exciting final against Letterkenny Rovers on penalties after the game finished 2-2 in ordinary time. The football was played in typical post-seasonal fashion, capturing the spirit of what the event was all about. One commentator and participant, Gavin Flanagan, on the event’s Facebook page said; ‘what a fantastic days craic, well organised, great craic, great bunch or lads, mixture of expertise, age, youth, etc was fantastic.’

At the presentation of the trophy in the Central Bar, Ciaran Corry spoke about the reasons for holding such an event; ‘It is important that people know of the plans to close this unique and successful health service. It is not being adequately replaced by the Programme for Centralised Cancer Services, despite what Mary Harney and the government state. St Luke’s Hospital is an existing centre of excellence for cancer treatment for people from Donegal who would otherwise have to travel to Belfast of Galway on a daily basis. As a patient there, I experienced the holistic healing effects that such a facility can give to people, something that an ordinary hospital cannot manufacture no matter how excellent the medical facilities are in such places. St Luke’s is an almost spiritual place, much more than just a medical centre and to close it, just for the perceived financial value of the site, is a disgrace on this government‘s outdated thinking. The decision needs to be rescinded and we are hoping that events such as this will raise awareness so that people will ask politicians who will be knocking on their doors in the near future looking for votes, to leave St Luke’s alone and not to change the wonderful service it already gives to cancer sufferers and their families.’

The St Luke’s football event raised over €2,500 and Ciaran also thanked the many sponsors who supported it. These included Boal’s Goals, who did not charge for use of their facilites, Michael Blaney of the Central Bar, for refreshments and entertainment afterwards, as well as the sponsors of the raffle prizes; Cash4U, Arena 7, Brewery Bar, Harvey’s Point Hotel, Kernan’s Supermarket, Ruth’s Chemist, Letterkenny Community Centre, DPD and the Fordes, Nikita Burke and Donegal Sports, Patrick Guildea and the Courtyard Pharmacy.

The event was also attended by the ‘Save St. Luke’s Campaign’ PRO, Enid O’Dowd, who has written a book on the issue called ‘Cancer in a Cold Climate’. The actor, Marion O’Dwyer, of ‘Ballykissangel’ and ‘Agnes Browne’ fame, also travelled especially to support the event.

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