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All aboard the BUMBLEance...in memory of Saoirse

A NEW children's ambulance to transport sick kids to treatment centres has been put into service.

The initiative was the brainchild of Tony and Mary Heffernan, whose daughter Saoirse died at the age of five following a battle against Batten's disease.

BUMBLEance is now the world's only interactive children's ambulance. Speaking of the project, Tony and Mary said: "We saw the stress our late daughter Saoirse experienced when undertaking many ambulance journeys from the family home in rural Ireland to the National Children's Hospitals in Dublin.

"We decided that there was no point doing nothing about it."

Ambulance journeys can be traumatic experiences for children but it is hoped the trip can be made fun with BUMBLEance.

The vehicle will be used to transport sick children to scheduled appointments between home and the various treatment centres and hospice and respite centres.

The Saoirse Foundation, which received no State funding for this service, is very hopeful of support from the business community and members of the public, it said.

The charity is also hoping to collect 30,000 used mobile phones, sufficient to allow the service operate for 52 weeks of the year.

Inside, all of the medical equipment is hidden and instead the child will experience a fun journey with their parents surrounded by all the latest gadgets.

The latest AV equipment is inter-connected onboard via a control 4 system and allows the child, using a single controller, to operate the 19-inch LED TV, DVD, iPad, Nubi, and Sony PlayStation console.

Children's Minister Frances FitzGerald attended the launch along with Miriam O'Callaghan.

comurphy@herald.ie