Big Coffee Morning celebrates 30 years helping hospices
A woman whose first coffee morning for Hospice services netted €100 has transformed the fundraiser into a huge community gathering which now brings in thousands.
Shirley Lawlor has run the event for 15 years – and has been inspired to keep going after losing two friends to cancer who were given “dignity and independence” by Hospice staff in their final days.
A decision to stage one of her fundraisers outdoors during Covid restrictions saw her raise over €7,000 – her most successful yet – for Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services in Harold’s Cross.
The Crumlin native initially got involved in the Hospice because she worked for the Sisters of Charity, but she developed a personal link when the facility cared for two of her friends.
Shirley, 52, was unperturbed when her first coffee morning raised just €100 and managed to turn the event into a huge annual social gathering.
She is now asking others to register to host a coffee morning on Thursday, September 22 as part of the Bewley’s Big Coffee Morning Social for Hospice at www.hospicecoffeemorning.ie or by calling 0818 995 996.
The national event, which has raised over €41.5m since its inception, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
“I remember holding the first coffee morning in 2007 with my friend Fran Lawlor,” she said.
“It raised €100 and my mother asked me was it worth all the hard work? I said if everyone held an event that raised €100, it would all add up both in money and awareness of the brilliant work the Hospice does.”
Together for Hospice, The National Hospice Movement represents 26 Hospice and specialist palliative home-care providers supporting patients and their families nationwide.
Funds raised locally stay local and go back into each local hospice service, helping to pay for medical and general staff, palliative care beds, home-care visits, specialist equipment and new hospice builds.
“I started organising the coffee mornings initially because I worked for the Sisters of Charity, but then my friends, John McGee and Catherine Kelly, died of cancer and received incredible care from the hospice prior to their deaths.
“Catherine helped me to get raffle prizes and even after she was diagnosed with stage four cancer was out asking businesses for spot prizes for the event. She was an amazing lady.
“John McGee was involved with Crumlin GAA, as is my husband Luke. The club has been terrific in offering us the use of their gazebos, tables, chairs and anything we need for the coffee morning.”
“We had built up the event anyway, but when we had to move it outside to comply with Covid-19 restrictions, it just turned into a community street party.
“It’s really like a get-together for neighbours on the Cashel Road, who have been amazing.
“They offered to move their cars so visitors can park on their driveways and anything we need, they will get for us.
“They really are an amazing bunch of neighbours. We don’t count the years here – we make the years count.
“I now have a team of nine bakers as well as people who collect for the raffle. Even at Christmas, I’m on social media asking for any unwanted gift sets to raffle on the day with the help of Ailish Barry.
“We also put up a memory flag to remember all those who have passed away over the years. Unfortunately, this list is getting longer, but those who have died held onto their dignity and their independence thanks to the incredible care and services of Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services.”
Register to host a coffee morning on Thursday, September 22, or on a date that suits you, at: www.hospicecoffeemorning.ie or call-save 0818 995 996.
Hosts are provided with a free Coffee Morning Pack containing Bewley’s coffee, posters and invitations.