From our family fun days to our Heroes Ball, Grandparents Day, Children’s Hospice Week and Light Up LauraLynn, it has been a year of many memories. I want to take this time to thank each of you for your continued support - to the staff, volunteers, fundraisers and donors. It is through all of your support that we can provide these special moments to our LauraLynn families and for that I, along with all of the LauraLynn staff, wish to extend our gratitude.
2019 was a truly special year. Not only did we sing, dance, bake, paint and share many laughs with our LauraLynn children, but we also launched our ‘Growing a Community of Care’ Strategic Plan 2019-2023, which will serve as our roadmap for development over the next five years. We also picked up some silverware this year in the form of a Good Governance Award in Governance Improvement, for our Strategic Plan. 2019 also saw the launch of our Hospice Model Of Care which coincides with our strategic plan and sets out our five pillars of care.
We are so grateful to our corporate partners and business supporters for their loyal and generous support during the year. A big shout out to the staff who cycled, walked, climbed, swam, ran, danced, baked and organised many other amazing fundraisers on our behalf. Their commitment, energy and passion has made a huge impact at LauraLynn.
This year was also an outstanding year for community fundraising in LauraLynn. From coffee mornings, beard shaves to bake sales, marathons to completing 100k in November, it has been quite exceptional to see the support for LauraLynn throughout the island of Ireland. I would also like to pay special tribute to the LauraLynn families who have chosen to run events, or support them, this year. Your generosity of time and spirit feels all the more special to us.
In April we came together to celebrate the families of LauraLynn at our very own Heroes Ball which saw donors and supporters join together to raise much needed funds for our charity. The night was an astonishing success and guests gave generously throughout the evening during our auction, raffle and balloon pop while many gave their professional experience and time free of charge to create such a magical event. The organisation for 2020’s Ball is already in full swing so make sure to save the date – March 28th.
We celebrated National Children’s Hospice Week this year in May, holding a number of fundraising drives, alongside a number of family events which celebrated the children and families of LauraLynn. Some of the events included a singing workshop, arts and crafts for families as well as a puppet making class with Bosco! The week culminated in a live telethon with Virgin Media Television’s Ireland AM with lots of generous donations during the show! I want to thank Alan Hughes, Anna Daly, Deric Hartigan, Baz Ashmawy, Dancing with the Stars Judge Brian Redmond, GAA Legends Paul Flynn, Sarah Rowe and Colm Begley. Also in May, Hazel House extended its reach for respite to the greater Dublin region and have to date admitted 11 new children with complex disabilities and healthcare needs for respite care and support.
In June our disability service had an unannounced thematic inspection from HIQA which was very positive. The inspection was focused on driving quality improvement in the service and it was noted that the service had effective oversight arrangements in place to ensure adults and children received a good and safe service.
We continued our ongoing excellent work in education during 2019 which included the Launch of the Professional Education Programme and of course the 4th International Collaborative CPC conference which took place in November. The first of our Children's Palliative Care, Professional Education Programme, ‘Optimising Comfort and Quality of Life’ was held on Wednesday, 25th September 2019 in LauraLynn. The day was very well attended by colleagues from the adult palliative care and community paediatric and disability services, as well as our own team. It was a fantastic day with our team demonstrating how we all work collaboratively in LauraLynn to optimise ‘comfort and quality of life’ for children with complex and palliative care needs. We also opened our doors to our donors in September with our annual Donor Open Day. The day was a wonderful success with over 80 donors attending tours of our hospice across the afternoon.
In October we announced former Ireland women's rugby union international and RTÉ rugby pundit, Fiona Coghlan, as an official ambassador. We are delighted to have Fiona on board and look forward to working with her more in 2020.
In November we held our annual tree lighting ceremony, Light Up LauraLynn. The afternoon was well attended by members of the community, our families and supporters. Ray D’arcy was on MC duties with lots of festive fun and caroling throughout the afternoon.
Our Volunteer Team have had yet another busy year. We now have over 160 registered volunteers. The team support LauraLynn in so many ways from helping with activities to helping at events, driving to administration, ironing to fundraising, the work they do is so vital to our organisation. In December we held a Volunteer of the Year Awards night in LauraLynn. This was a small way for us to show our thanks and appreciation for everything that they do for us.
We also opened our doors at LauraLynn to some very special guests across 2019 who came to visit our children and put a smile on many faces. Some of the visitors included; Children’s author Peter Donnelly who joined us for an interactive story-telling workshop, Rugby stars and LauraLynn Ambassadors Garry Ringrose and Fiona Coghlan, Dublin GAA star Paul Mannion and TV and Radio Presenter Ray D’arcy.
Finally I would like to extend our warmest Christmas wishes to each of you and wishing you all a happy and healthy 2020.
Niall McHugh, Chairman