Kieran Walsh reports
Another successful, sold-out Mayor’s Ball was held last Saturday in the Tower Hotel, which gained significant and welcome sponsorship from Eirgen and many other local businesses.,
Bishop of Waterford & Lismore Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan and Dean Jansson both bought at the auction, with Bishop Cullinan buying a Waterford jersey from last year’s winning national hurling league team, signed by them. A Henry Shefflin jersey was bought by a well-known County Kilkenny builder based in Waterford.
Bids were good but given that it was the night before the National Hurling League Final replay, the sporting influence was strong.
Mayor of Waterford City and County Councillor John Cummins reckoned that €1 million has been raised from Mayors’ Balls over the past 17 years and this year, over €45,000 will be raised for the various charities.
This will be divided across the three charities, namely the St Vincent de Paul (Waterford), the Samaritans and the Sacred Heart Youth Centre on Lady Lane.
Paul Nolan did a great job as MC and encouraging the auction – perhaps a career in auctioneering beckons!
Dermot Dooley, representing the Sacred Heart Day Care Centre on Lady Lane, spoke from the heart about his son Darragh, who suffered severe brain damage when born in 2009, and has benefited from the Centre’s fantastic efforts.
“All that is needed now is a purpose-built building to ensure that the most vulnerable children can indeed avail of their expertise in a building that is equipped to meet their needs, and this fantastic contribution made tonight is most welcome,” he said.
As we have exclusively reported in recent weeks, parents of current and past service users at Sacred Heart are in the early stages of an ambitious €8 million fundraising plan for a new custom-built facility to serve Waterford and the south east. It was a very moving speech, which was acknowledged later by Mayors Cummins and Quinlan and we’ll have more on this story in future editions.
Michael Curran spoke on behalf of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and noted the high level of poverty that’s prevalent at present, with one in nine using their services for education help, food and heating supports.
The organisation has been in operation since 1849, but the VdeP’s need is particularly great at present, a point hammered home when this newspaper spent a day out with Mr Curran and his colleagues last winter.
Michael Curran said that one in 11 households in the city have used the service and some €485,000 was given in assistance two years ago, and this demand rose by 15 per cent with one in nine houses requesting assistance in the city in 2015, with €580,000 was given out to clients.
They are reaching more and more people. They also need more volunteers, “three hours a week will do”, said Mr Curran, who added that they have 300 volunteers at present but always need more.
Rory Fitzgerald spoke on behalf of the Samaritans.
They have 119 volunteers in Waterford and a special free phone number for their services (116-123), with depression, loneliness and stress among some of the primary reasons why people call. The funds received from the Mayoral event will go towards services fully. They too also require new volunteers.
Cllr Cha O Neill (Ind) was special thanked by both Mayors for his work and dedication to the organisation of the event, whole Emma Smyth also specially mentioned.
Metropolitan Mayor Eamon Quinlan (FF) thanked all for coming and the organisers for their great work and also the charities. The Tower Hotel put on a wonderful meal, with Broadstreet later providing the evening’s musical entertainment.