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Hands Up Slieve Gullion supports four local charities

April 21, 2014

Next month’s Hands Up Slieve Gullion event aims to raise funds on behalf of four particularly worthy local services and charities by creating a chain of hands up to the summit of Slieve Gullion mountain.

This will be a major logistical challenge which will need plenty of volunteers but, with the help of family, friends and the general public, it is hoped the imaginative idea can raise much needed funds for Newry and Mourne Diabetic Group, Southern Area Hospice, Musgrave Orthopaedic Unit and the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

Ahead of the upcoming event, The Examiner will profile each charity and hear first-hand how its services have helped local families affected by life-changing medical conditions.  This week we profile the Southern Area Hospice and the Newry and Mourne Diabetic Group.

Hands Up for the ‘Dignity in Care’ the Southern Area Hospice provides

For most families supporting a loved one with a terminal illness can be challenging. Knowing how to offer comfort and support to a family member in this time is paramount. The McDonald family got this support and guidance from the Southern Area Hospice, one of the four charities the upcoming Hands Up Slieve Gullion event is fundraising for.

Last year, at 31 years of age, life was good for Laura McDonald as she enjoyed her working life, socializing with friends, travelling and enjoying a trip to Australia with her parents Joan and Dessie while they looked forward to her brother Darren’s wedding in September 2013.

In March 2013, all that changed when her beloved mum Joan was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 61. Although a terrible shock to the family, they remained positive and supported each other.  Joan underwent radiotherapy treatment and fought hard against her illness but eventually required inpatient care in the Southern Area Hospice in order to assist with pain management.

Sadly Joan passed away in July 2013, just four months after her cancer was diagnosed. The family has spoken of the care and attention Joan received during her time at the hospice and what this meant for her and her loved ones.

“We are eternally grateful to the staff at the hospice for the level of care and attention my mum received in her final days, it was second to none,” says daughter Laura.

“I didn’t really know anything about the hospice or their services until my mum was sick. I don’t know what we would have done without the support and care of the hospice; it is such a special place. We can’t thank them enough.

“Not only did my mum receive the best care and attention from the consultants and nurses but also my dad, brother and myself were supported through what was such a frightening time. The chaplains visited us throughout each day supporting us as a family. The hospice also offers after care in the form of counselling for bereaved relatives if people feel they need it.”

The Southern Area Hospice cares for almost 1,000 patients annually, providing for patients residing in the Southern Health Trust Area, from Kilkeel to Ballygawley and from Crossmaglen to Portadown. The Southern Area Hospice aims to provide families with dignity in care.

“Having seen first-hand what the hospice does, I know that the hospice deserves all the money it receives through fundraising to provide such a special and vital service to the Southern Health Trust Area,” adds Laura.

The Hands up Slieve Gullion fundraising event want to say thank you to services like the Hospice, by not only donating money but by coming together as a community, standing side by side and showing  support and appreciation for the care they have given to local families.

Mountainous task of managing diabetes helped by Newry Diabetes Clinic

Managing diabetes can sometimes feel like a mountainous task for the 80,000 people currently diagnosed with the condition in Northern Ireland. Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing people both young and old today and, within the Southern Trust Area alone, over 13,000 people are living with the condition.

One person who understands the challenges of the disease all too well is Dromintee Senior Footballer Kevin Fearon. Kevin was enjoying an active life playing senior Division One football, working and spending time with his fiancé and friends when, at just 25 years old, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

“When I was initially diagnosed as Type 1 Diabetic it came as quite a shock. At 25 it’s not something that you think you are going to be diagnosed with, and to be truthful, I didn’t know a whole lot about the disease,” says Kevin.

Even though the young footballer had always been aware of the condition, as his mother Maria is the Practice Nurse Manager at the Newry Diabetes Clinic, neither he nor his mother ever thought he would be availing of the service.

Most people who get diagnosed with diabetes need support, medical intervention and education on how to manage and control their condition. For Kevin, all of this came from the Newry Diabetes Clinic.

“I would count myself very lucky. The service and support that I have received over the years and especially during my diagnosis was and still is magnificent. The staff are warm and friendly and have made my education in how to manage the disease easy and stress-free,” he says.

“As a result, I can manage my diabetes with great control, and thankfully the illness hasn’t impacted too much on my lifestyle.”

Now in his early thirties, Kevin still plays senior football for his club, enjoys his work and manages his diabetes with great support from the staff and heath-care professionals in the Newry Clinic.

“I would like to say a special thank you to Sally Griffen for all the time and effort she has given to me, she’s a magnificent nurse, and the district is very lucky to have her.”

If you want to support any of the four worthy charities and services or know someone who has used the services,  please come along on the 4th of May and form a human chain beginning at the Slieve

Gullion Car Park reaching all the way to the summit of Slieve Gullion Mountain.

Next week, The Examiner profiles the Musgrave Orthopaedic Unit and the Royal Victoria Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

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