‘I remember the Women’s Refuge as a safe place that felt like home’ – Base Gym fitness instructor Gloudie Makiese
Members and staff of three County Wexford gyms are showing some muscle to raise funds for the kitting out of a planned new €5.6 million premises for Wexford Women’s Refuge when it is built.
Base Gym in Wexford, Urban Gym in New Ross and BodyBlox, Enniscorthy are staging simultaneous gym sessions featuring regulars and supporters, with members of the public invited along to watch the action on Saturday, July 9 from 10 am to 12 noon.
The ‘Work-out for the Refuge’ has the public endorsement of Wexford and national sporting celebrities including Katie Taylor, Kellie Harrington, Rachel Blackmore, Tadgh Furlong, Kevin Doyle, Ursula Jacob, Lee Chin, Festy Ebosele, Steven Hunt and Billy Walsh.
The events will be held in a spirit of summer fun with Gus O’ Connell, proprietor of A Room Outside in Kerlogue Business Park (across from Base Gym) hosting a barbecue during the Wexford session which is organised by Base owner Eamon Murphy, assisted by personal trainer and fitness instructor Gloudie Makiese while sponsor Gohealth.ie in Enniscorthy is providing goodie bags.
When Gloudie (20) heard about the fundraiser he had no hesitation in putting his weight behind it because he lived in Wexford Women’s Refuge for eight months with his mother Julie and twin sister Benedicte when he 12 years old and remembers it as “a safe place that felt like home".
A native of The Congo, he had arrived in Wexford the year before at the age of 11 and was still settling in at 5th class in Castlebridge national school when his mother was forced to seek emergency accommodation in the refuge.
"My memory of the first day is that the staff were there and they showed us our accommodation and said if you need anything let us know.
"We didn’t feel strange being there. We knew it was home and it felt like home as well. Each family had their own room.
"There was a spare hurley in school and one of the teachers gave it to me. I got a sliothar and I remember going up in the garden in the refuge to practice.
“My mother was looking for work and they helped her and it was the same when she was looking for a house. They helped us to find a place to live when we were moving out of the refuge”, said Gloudie who studied Sport and Exercise Science at Carlow IT and is a part-time personal trainer, fitness instructor and coach at Base Gym where he was previously a member for two years.
" I started playing football with St. Joseph’s Club and after we moved out of the refuge and lived for a time in Pierce Court, I would run to training and I remember passing the refuge on the way. I kept football up for a few years and then I fell in love with the gym.”
Gloudie said Base organises a charity event every year and when gym member Tom Coleman approached Eamon about doing something for the refuge, “I didn’t hesitate, I said yes straight away because it is something close to me”.
"With the new refuge building, they will have more accommodation and will be able to help more people”, he said.
Andy and Marina and the team at Urban Gym are the New Ross organisers while Louise O’ Brien and her team are leading the way at Body Blox in Enniscorthy.
According to Eamon, the fundraising target between the three gyms is €15,000 and donations are being accepted on a Gofundme page and also in-house at the three premises whether donors wish to take part in the work-out or not.
The co-ordinator for this and other events which are being held as part an overall Wexford fundraising campaign to furnish and equip the much-anticipated new Women’s Refuge is the Piercestown farmer and Base gym member Tom Coleman who was inspired to help out after visiting the existing overcrowded refuge in Distillery Road, Wexford town with a donation last Christmas.
"It knocked me for six to see the conditions and I could see the pressure they were under with just four bedrooms they were telling me about the all the people that were being turned away so I decided I would do what I could to help”, he said.
The new refuge which is to be built in Maudlintown, Wexford was given Government go-ahead in April to proceed to tender with a capital commitment of €5.6 million. The premises will be large enough to accommodate 12 families experiencing domestic violence and will provide them with independent living spaces and room for children to play.
Various fundraisers are planned by groups and individuals wishing to contribute to the kit-out fund including a cycle in France and a Bargy Vintage Club even during the Leo Carthy Weekend with Suzanne Corrigan of Ekko Health and Beauty in Clonard and the Talbot Hotel having raised €12,000 through a Wellness Day in Newbay House recently.
“There are so many people behind the scenes who are making this happen”, said Eamon Murphy.
John Keane of Keane Auctioneers is holding a fundraising raffle for a prize of a luxury package in Monart Destination Spa including two night Bed and Breakfast, two dinners and a day in the spa, which is estimated to be worth €1,100.
Tickets cost €20 and can be purchased online on the Keane Auctioneers Facebook or Instagram accounts or in the office on Custom House Quay. The draw will take place online on August 25.
The auctioneer said he recently had reason to become aware of the work being done in the refuge and the constraints the staff are operating under to provide a vital service to families affected by domestic violence.