Kieran Walsh

After two years absent due to Covid-19, there is great enthusiasm to have the Waterford Mayors’ Ball back on the social calendar.  This will be the 20th ball, said Cha O Neill one of the main organisers and fundraisers for the event, which has raised 1.2 million euro for local charities

Mayor Joe Kelly says it is one of the major social events of the year in Waterford and is eagerly awaited. The corporate sponsors are back such as NearForm, Nypro and EirGen. An additional sponsor is JP O’Donohoe Accountants.

Mayors Seamus Ryan and Joe Kelly pictured with John O’Donohoe, Jim O’Neill and Clyde Casey, JP O’Donohoe & Company, Sponsors; Cha O’Neill, Organiser; Kieran Walsh, Managing Director, The Munster Express; and Paula French, Dungarvan Community Hospital. Photos: John Power

Major beneficiaries this year are Down Syndrome Ireland, Waterford Animal Welfare, the Solas Centre and the Family Resource Centre of the Sacred Heart Parish. The event will be in the Tower Hotel again and tickets are expected to go fast, so book early,

Mayor Kelly said it was an honour for him and the Metropolitan Mayor Seamus Ryan to be involved, who also reiterated the words of Mayor Kelly that it was a really important event.

There is also a West Waterford connection this year, with the Solas Centre having an office in Dungarvan, and Dungarvan local hospital involvement assisted by the Sacred Heart Parish Resource Centre.

The Down Syndrome branch has also West Waterford and South Kilkenny connection. Joanne Ryan of the committee explained the work that they do and they have 170 members.  Speech and language therapy is one of their activities as well as occupational therapy, and counselling.

We also spoke with Waterford Animal Welfare who are based at 114 the Quay, Waterford. This is a voluntary service. The main man is Andrew Quinn, a retired fireman who loves animals.They provide a range of services for people and their animals, dogs are the main work and they do rescue also. Some dogs are very good and instinctive but others need much care and training.  Andrew said a dog should be treated and reared like a child to get the best behaviour.

They also do emergency work across the county for wild animals also.  They even look after seals, injured swans, horses, wildlife like birds or deer who may be hit by motorists and may not have died, even hedgehogs. Andrew ‘s daughter who is a social care worker is secretary of the Animal Welfare organisation and Terri Quinn, wife of Andrew, is the treasurer.

We also spoke with the Sacred Heart Family Resource Centre of Waterford and Heather Kiely.  She is project manager and they have many volunteers and funding from Tusla for the equivalent of two full time jobs for social workers.  This is a family support network, childcare services, personal development and offer a service from cradle to the grave.

In terms of Covid, young children were affected by anxiety and even older ones too up to teens and beyond. They even had to supply food parcels at times and activity packs to people that needed support whose incomes were down so much.

Heather Kiely can be contacted at 086-8348764, for those who need help. They also reach out to Dungarvan for specific project work and have a few hundred clients in total, as well as 12 staff in childcare.  They also assist in reintegrating those who have overcome addiction to drink or drug issues. Parenting programmes are also other part of their case load at times.