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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Foundation to apply for planning permission

Myles Buchanan

Published 18/06/2014 | 05:44

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WICKOW Hospice Foundation will soon be applying for planning permission for the long awaited hospice at Magheramore near Brittas Bay, having met its €3 million fundraising target.

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The Hospice Foundation made the landmark announcement on Sunday during a family fun day on the site which was donated to it by the Columban sisters.

Foundation Patron and Wicklow resident Daniel Day Lewis could not make an appearance on the day, but a recent video of him talking about the importance of the facility was broadcast during the festivities and received a tremendous reception.

Patrons Chris De Burgh, Shane Byrne and Phelim Drew attended the event, as did Wicklow's five TD's - Simon Harris, Anne Ferris, Stephen Donnelly, Andrew Doyle and Billy Timmins.

The long-awaited Wicklow Hospice Facility was expected to receive the green light from the HSE in 2012, but the economic downturn meant the facility was put on hold.

The HSE began a new evaluation process of sites in Wicklow and has now narrowed it down to three sites. Magheramore is the preferred site of the Hospice Foundation. A decision on the site is now imminent and the Wicklow Hospice Foundation has decided to proceed with applying for planning permission for the Magheramore site so they can hit the ground running with building as soon as the green light is given.

The 3.65 acre site would be home to a free standing hospice building easy to access for patients from North Wexford, Arklow, Ashford and Rathdrum.

The site allows for small alcoves, sunny corners, strategic use of clusters of seats to allow patients whose mobility may be limited to take short walks

This new hospice will be the hub of a consultant-lead specialist service with a multi-disciplinary home care team attached and will also include a day centre.

Daniel Day Lewis has publicly said that the Magheramore site was the site they would build on, talking about his own experience of his mother passing away in a Cottage Hospital in the UK. He said the quality of the environment was crucial.

'The physical environment is a huge part of it. Needless to say, the Magheramore site is a place of great natural beauty, a peaceful place. Without the quality of the environment, then the experience becomes diminished. The harder the environment, the less sympathetic, the less consoling, the less peaceful, the harder that experience becomes.

'We don't just want to slap ourselves on the back and say look we built a hospice in Wicklow - it has to be a hospice built in the most beautiful and suitable place available. And we have this place and this is where we're going to build it.'

Evanne Cahill, Chair of Fundraising at Wicklow Hospice Foundation, says the organisation is overwhelmed with what has been achieved.

'We cannot believe that all the hard work is now about the pay off. We are indebted to our many supporters, big and small. The people of Wicklow made this happen - they put their hearts and souls into this Magheramore Hospice facility as too many of them had seen close family die in acute hospitals, miles from home without the specialist palliative care that affords dignity, comfort and peace at one of the most vulnerable times in life. The Magheramore site is bounded by mature trees, surrounded by wildlife and bird song. What greater gift could you give to those you love the most as they approach life's end?'

The American Ireland Fund, who have assisted the foundation with reaching the €3 million fundraising target have expressed their delight at the news that everything is in place for the HSE to now build the new facility.

CEO of the American Ireland Fund, Kieran McLoughlin welcomed the announcement describing it as a testament to the power of philanthropy.

'When an entire community comes together, wonderful outcomes can be achieved. To have raised €3 million, especially in these difficult times, is spectacular.'

Wicklow People

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