independent

Friday 17 November 2017

1,300 walk into the light

Courtney and Leanne Caulfield with Marie Bradley
Courtney and Leanne Caulfield with Marie Bradley
Michael Kelly, Sinead, Michael and Sinead Sommers
Ciara Moran, Caoimhe Fitzpatrick and Terry Chapman
Elaine O'Shea, Niall Kennedy and Noirin Murphy
Cllr Michael Sheehan, Cllr Michael Fleming, Patsie Moore, Pat Lawlor and Cllr Michael Whelan
Front row: Kathleen Kane, Maeve Kinsella, Marian Ryan and Carol Rawson; back: Fiona Rawson and Diane Waters
Karen Furlong, Catherine Connaughton, Monica Murphy, Cáit Foran, Sarah Collins
Hillary Murphy and Ger Tobin
Rosemary Freaney cutting the ribbon in memory of her son John Patrick Daniel Freaney to mark the first Darkness Into Light in New Ross
Grainne Tobin and Lorraine Braden

David Looby

Sporting yellow t-shirts, more than 1,300 people shook off sleep and took to the roads of New Ross on Saturday morning in solidarity, raising money for Pieta House in the first ever Darkness into Light walk in the town.

Ger Tobin said she and the organisers started planning the event a year ago and thought 100 people would turn up.

She said they were overjoyed to see more than 1,300 at the walk.

'That is a good percentage of the people of New Ross who were proud and pleased in themselves to see so many people coming out. There were children in buggies right up to elderly people.'

Rosemary Freaney, whose son John died by suicide in 2005, cut the ribbon kicking off the walk which began at 4.15 a.m.

The 5km route looping around the town provided a challenge for participants, especially the runners, but throughout there was a great atmosphere.

One person who lost a family member to suicide a decade ago told one of the organisers that Saturday morning was the first time she hasn't felt alone in that period. Another person spoke of how she felt a sense of healing wash over her.

'It was a step forward for a lot of people. People were afraid to talk about suicide and mental health before. When people who lost somebody (to suicide) saw so many people coming out in solidarity they felt that the stigma isn't there so much anymore and that there is help for people.'

Ms Tobin said €3,500,000 was raised at last years' Darkness into Light walks, adding that this paid for 45,000 hours of counselling and helped establish a 24/7 helpline: 1800 247247. She said Pieta House has two support centres in the region, in Wexford and in Waterford.

'One hour after this year's walk we started planning next year's. We want to thank all the volunteers, the committee, our sponsors, the Apex, gardaí, civil defence, Molloy's Supervalu (where more than €1,000 was raised in store), Pettitt's and the New Ross Standard,

New Ross Standard

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