independent

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Gardai's tour de force

Garda Denis Dunbar, Sgt. Colum Matthews, Garda John Cleary, Garda Dean O'Gorman, Insp. David O'Sullivan, Garda Siobhan Murray, Garda Paul Buckley and Chief Supt. John Roche at the launch of 'Head to Head for Hope' Charity Cycle outside Enniscorthy Garda Station on Friday
Garda Denis Dunbar, Sgt. Colum Matthews, Garda John Cleary, Garda Dean O'Gorman, Insp. David O'Sullivan, Garda Siobhan Murray, Garda Paul Buckley and Chief Supt. John Roche at the launch of 'Head to Head for Hope' Charity Cycle outside Enniscorthy Garda Station on Friday

Pádraig Byrne

Several gardaí from the Enniscorthy District and around the county are set to take on a monumental task next week as they aim to cycle a total of 470km from Malin Head in Donegal to Hook Head for charity.

The event is the brainchild of Enniscorthy Sergeant Colum Matthews who is hopeful of raising quite a bit of money for the Hope Cancer Support Centre and Wexford Hospice Homecare. Both are causes that are close to his heart after his father Noel passed away from cancer back in 2013. A former Sergeant himself, Noel worked in Enniscorthy for many years before being promoted and moving to Co Kildare in the mid 80s. While there, he underwent treatment for lung cancer and made a full recovery before returning to Enniscorthy as Sergeant in 1998. In 1999, he met with a couple of other people who had a similar experience with cancer and following that meeting, it was decided to found the Hope Cancer Support and Information Centre.

Sadly, in 2010, Noel was diagnosed with a different form of cancer.

'From that moment the Hospice Homecare team became involved,' said Colum. 'During his illness the Hospice nurses visited our home on a regular basis and in the last few weeks of his illness they visited daily and indeed twice daily if needed. In February 2013 my father passed away and it was sometime after that, that I appreciated the help they were to our family and to our father. There was never a bill sent or a request for payment for their services.'

Now Colum is determined to repay Wexford Hospice for all their help and support, along with raising further funds for the Hope Centre as well with this long haul charity cycle.

'I organised it as a Garda event initially and looked for Gardai from Wexford Garda Division to take part,' Colum explained. 'I now have 15 cyclists taking part (13 Gardai and 2 civilians) and we are cycling from Malin Head, Co Donegal to Hook Head - a total of 470km. Each cyclist will be paying for their own accommodation, food and jersey so every penny received will go directly to the charities.'

The endeavour has received great support locally already and Hertz have agreed to supply two vans to transport bikes and bags, while Enniscorthy Cabs have agreed to transport the cyclists to Donegal to the starting point free of charge. Other sponsors include Alcast Motor Factors, Aircon Mech, The Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy Credit Union, SanRose Sand Suppliers and Garda Credit Unions.

Colum is hopeful that the event will be a huge success and that everyone will make it to Hook in one piece. They will set off from Malin Head on September 6 and aim to be back to Hook on September 9. Anyone who wishes to donate some money to the effort can do so by lodging money into the account at Enniscorthy Credit Union, details of which you can get at the 'Head to Head for Hope' Facebook page, where you will also be able to see progress reports as the lads take on the mammoth 470km cycle.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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