KERRY'S Autistic facilities are continuing to develop for children of national school age but government cutbacks mean that resources for teenagers are much less accessible. That's according to Killorglin woman Fiona Hyde who has been a long term fundraiser for autism services.
Fiona, whose teenage son is on the autism spectrum, held her fifth annual fashion show in aid of autistic services last and it proved another sell-out at Sol Y Sombra in Killorglin with approximately €3,500 collected on the night.
The funds raised will largely go towards St Ita's and St Joseph's Autistic Unit where Fiona's son Dylan (14) is a pupil. The remainder will go towards Killorglin Mental Health Association as Fiona typically selects a second charity each year.
Fiona says that every cent raised is vital as government cut backs continue to affect services, particularly at secondary level.
"We are raising the money for the unit at St Ita's and St Joseph's as they have a sensory room but it is in need of equipment, so we want to help and kit it out as they do such great work," Fiona said.
"It's one of the few facilities available in Kerry. For instance, in mid Kerry there are several units at primary level but, when it comes to secondary pupils, the only options are mainstream schools or St Francis Special School, there's really nothing else available," she added.
Stores showcasing their wares last Tuesday night included Killarney boutiques Pillbox, Jasmine, MacBees, Niche, Bonsai, Kerry's Boutique and Wisteria; Place of Clothing and No 6 Fashions in Killorglin; Kitty's of Cahersiveen, as well as Tina Griffin Design and Clodagh Irwin Owens Design. John Evans was MC for the evening while Mary McBride spoke as the models paraded on the catwalk.
"Thanks to everyone involved, it was a fantastic night and the models were great as they did it all on a voluntary basis," Fiona added.
Originally from Killorglin but having lived in Essex for almost two decades, Fiona returned home in 2008.
She held her first fashion show in 2009 to raise funds ahead of an eight-day trek on the Inca Trail for Irish Autism Action and she has kept in contact with the charity's figurehead Keith Duffy ever since.