Hospice heroes Chloe (14) and mum honoured
THIS Dublin mum and daughter team have been volunteering religiously at the Irish Hospice after they had a very personal encounter with the incredible organisation.
Debby and Chloe McNamara were both named 'sunflower heroes' by the Irish Hospice Foundation in recognition of their fundraising activities.
Mum Debby said that she and Chloe (14) have been raising funds for the cause since the death of her husband, Gerry, in 2009 from Motor Neuron Disease, after he spent some of his last days in Our Lady's Hospice in Harold's Cross.
The Donnybrook woman - who adopted Chloe with Gerry in Malaysia when she was just two weeks old - said that when he was diagnosed it was a "great shock".
"He was a businessman and rugby player and just loved life," Debby said. "We can't even begin to imagine what we would have done without the hospice. It helps you strengthen up and cope. It gets rid of the fear. It's given us strength and we're taking the good out of it, just as Gerry would have wanted."
The Dublin woman revealed that sunflowers, the symbol of the Irish Hospice Foundation, hold a special significance for her.
"The July before his diagnosis, Gerry was planting sunflowers from pots into our garden for Chloe when he pulled a muscle in his back," she explained.
"That was the first thing that led to his diagnosis the following September."
Almost six years on and the mother and daughter duo have raised thousands for the cause through their love of gardening.
The pair transformed the garden at Our Lady's Hospice, which went on to win numerous awards at Bloom 2013.
"Fourteen months after Gerry died, his father passed away and left us some money. I decided to give the money to the Hospice and the garden was sent to Bloom, where it was voted Best in Show and won a silver gilt award," Debby said.
The garden continues to raise funds for the organisation, with a fundraiser scheduled for this weekend.
"All the funds raised will be going towards the hospice," Debby said.
Ten other 'sunflower heroes' from around the country were also honoured at yesterday's ceremony, including Dublin native Nora Gahan, who has been raising money for the charity since 1989.
The public can support the Irish Hospice Foundation by making a donation or buying a sunflower badge on this year's Sunflowers Days on June 5-6.