'We're delighted', say LauraLynn founders at getting top honour
The parents who established the LauraLynn children's hospice, following the tragedy of losing two daughters to serious illness, have been honoured with the freedom of Dun Laoghaire.
Jane and Brendan McKenna were yesterday the guests of honour at a civic reception by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council at County Hall.
They were praised for their work in providing end-of-life care for children with terminal illnesses.
The couple were delighted with the recognition of the charity set up as a legacy for their daughters Laura and Lynn.
It comes as they should be celebrating their 21st and 30th birthdays.
The couple were joined by family and friends at the reception for the civic honour - only the second one ever conferred by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.
Mr and Mrs McKenna, who were presented with a scroll as part of the proceedings, said they were "delighted and honoured" at the award.
The honour was bestowed on the couple by Barry Saul, Cathaoirleach of the council.
"It is a great privilege to award the county's highest honour to Jane and Brendan for their tireless work in fundraising and raising awareness for families with children with life-limiting or threatening conditions requiring respite care," he said.
"Jane and Brendan finally saw the result of their efforts in 2011 - the opening of Ireland's only children's hospice in the grounds of the Children's Sunshine Home in Leopardstown".
The Hospice, dedicated to the memory of their daughters, cost €5.5m to build and costs €3.5m annually to run.
The money is raised through fundraising and donations by members of the public and corporate organisations.
Cllr Saul presented Mr and Mrs McKenna with a Certificate of Honour and sterling silver scroll, crafted by a local silversmith, which bears a specially commissioned stamp for the centenary year.
Last week was dedicated to raising awareness about children's hospices and LauraLynn used the occasion to call for more palliative care services to be provided for affected families.
"Too few children and families who require palliative care can currently access hospice services," CEO of LauraLynn Sharon Morrow said.
"As a result, they often rely on emergency and acute support because the hospice care services are not available in their area," she said.
"Time is short for these families.
"LauraLynn is calling on all political parties to commit to increase the provision of children's hospice care by ensuring that there is fair and sustainable funding for children's palliative care," she added.
Currently, LauraLynn is the only dedicated children's hospice in the state.
Last year it launched a hospice-at-home programme which has enabled it to expand its services to many more families.
Jane and Brendan lost Laura (4) and Lynn (13) within two years of each other.