Laurels Charity crew on target to reach €1 million

By Maurice Garvey

A CHARITY that started nine years ago by two barmen and a group of friends in Clondalkin has become so successful that by next year, a realistic target of €1 million may be realised.

The Laurels Charity Crew, established in 2009 by Laurels bar manager Damien Long and head barman Denis McCarthy, has already raised approximately €860k for Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, and is the single biggest non-corporate donor to Our Lady’s.

Laurels charity crew 05102017

The charity host two annual events each year, a cycle from Galway to Dublin, and in the last two years, a Santa Cycle from the Phoenix Park to Clondalkin Village, both of which have become increasingly popular.

“The first Santa cycle had 190 people, this year we’re expecting 1,500 to take part,” said Long.

“I don’t know where we will put them all (for refreshments afterwards in the Laurels), we’ll have to jam them in somewhere.”

Initially, Long and McCarthy wanted to come up with a fundraising idea for the community that was bigger and more inclusive than an average raffle night.

Damien continued: “As well as the usual fun social things like music and pub quizzes, we wanted to do something bigger, something that would get people involved. We were inspired by the amazing spinal operation performed at Crumlin on young Sean Kelly, son of local resident Denis Kelly.

“Similar operations at Crumlin were being performed by Straight Ahead, a group of surgeons and medical and nursing staff who give their talent and time free of charge to provide life-changing operations for children with severe spinal conditions.

These are children who have been on a waiting list and just need to have the operation done. It was these children, and others like them in Our Lady’s, that encouraged the lads to get started.”

Getting together with some friends and local Clondalkin groups interested in cycling, the Laurels Charity Crew was born.

“It made total sense,” said Denis McCarthy.

“The children’s hospital is a national charity, but on a local level it means something to everybody. Everyone was a kid, has a kid or is a kid. People really respond to it.”

The first cycle in 2009 had a crew of 27 cyclists and some volunteers and support vehicles. 

In 2010 and 2011, there were 57 and 98 cyclists respectively.

Despite the recession, the crew raised over €50,000 each year, and since then, the event has gone from strength to strength.

In 2018, the crew will celebrate it’s 10-year anniversary and hope to reach a €1 million raised for charity.  

The crew acknowledge the support of many who help drive the campaign, including local residents, volunteers, Laurels staff, local sports and business groups, gardai, and Straight Ahead (medical support group affiliated with Our Lady’s).

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