Barretstown ‘is the most magical place’ for families
Isaac and Madison Keenan enjoying being Back at Barretstown during the summer

Barretstown ‘is the most magical place’ for families

A TALLAGHT family has shared their story as part of a new fundraising campaign, which aims to get 10,000 children and family members back to Barretstown.

The children’s charity, which offers free specially designed programmes and camps for children and families living with a serious illness, has launched its Back to Barretstown appeal.

Due to Covid-19, the charity had to close its doors and cancel many of its key fundraising events in 2020 and 2021.

These events help to generate, through public support, 97 per cent of the funds that make Barretstown’s work possible.

As a result, Barretstown has an income shortfall of €1.5m since Covid began, and a fundraising target of €5.8m for 2021.

Now that the gates are open again, Back to Barretstown is an appeal to help get 10,000 children and family members on the charity’s waiting list back to Barretstown camp.

Living in Kilnamanagh, Ashley Keenan’s young boy Isaac has been Back to Barretstown since Covid-19, and the whole family is feeling the benefits.

“My little boy Isaac suffers from a rare, undiagnosed life-threatening genetic condition,” Ashley said.

“He has a compromised immune system which means he gets ill very easily.

“So, you can imagine how stressful the Covid-19 pandemic has been for me, Isaac, his dad Dean and his big sister, Madison.”

Encouraging members of the community to back Barretstown, Ashley said: “Barretstown is a place where childhood comes alive.

“And getting Back to Barretstown has been magical, every minor detail taken care of by the Barretstown team.

“It’s amazing how there is no difference in any child, every child is loved and treated with this upbeat, full of life friendly approach.

“Once you go through those gates it’s like being in a different world, one where those in that land have walked in your shoes, an invisible safety net is wrapped around your family, and you slip into the fun and see your own children in a different way.

“It really is the most magical place.”

Located in Kildare, Barretstown re-opened its gates in June, with the charity now appealing to members of the public to make Barretstown and its therapeutic camps and programmes a reality for all ill children and their families.

Dee Ahearn, CEO of Barretstown, said: “Covid-19 has not made it easy.

“The many extra precautions, costs and safeguards needed, as well as the distance between campers when at camp, has been difficult.

“But our amazing staff and volunteers have dealt with each challenge and as we slowly and safely start building our numbers back up and bringing more sick children and their families back to Barretstown, we really need your help.

“We rely on the generosity of the public for 97 per cent of our funding, receiving just 3 per cent funding from the HSE.

“With thousands of children and family members still waiting for their chance to experience Barretstown’s traditional life changing therapeutic programmes, we are urgently appealing to the public for their support so families can experience the magic of Barretstown in person again.”

Learn more about Barretstown and how to support the charity’s appeal by visiting www.barretstown.org.