80-year-old Chris walks 28km to help opening of community centre

By Mary Dennehy

A LOCAL man took in the sights of Tallaght when he embarked on a 28km fundraising walk for the Kingswood Community Centre.

Living in Kilnamanagh for more than four decades, eighty-year-old Chris Grahan last Sunday walked 28km to help Kingswood Community Centre step closer to reopening.

Chris Grahan Kingswood walk compressor

Trevor, Caroline from Hollywood Jive, centre chairperson Paul Dalton, Jonathan from Hollywood Jive, centre manager Grainne Wall (front left) and Chris Grahan to the front centre in the red

Chris is an active member of the community centre, and takes part in its Men’s Group and Hollywood Jive dance classes.

The dance class is led by teachers Jonathan and Caroline, who together with Chris came up with the fundraising idea and brought it to the centre – which, like other centres, has had no income for three months.

Speaking with The Echo, centre manager Grainne Wall said: “A big thank you to Chris and Jonathan and Caroline of Hollywood Jive for coming up with this fundraising idea.

“All of the money raised will be used to get the centre back-up-and-running and to buy extra sanitisers, PPE, signage, gloves, extra cleaning equipment.

“We are quite anxious to open up again and really want to get the community back in a safe manner.”

Last Sunday at 10am, Chris set off from the Kingswood Community Centre on a 25km walk – clocking 28km by the time he returned to the centre at around 4.30pm.

Chris’s route took in Tallaght’s historial and beauty spots, including Tallaght Village, Sean Walsh Park, Kiltipper Park, a complete loop of the Bohernabreena reservoir, Dodder Valley Park and Tymon Park.

He also travelled along some of the area’s main arteries like the Tallaght Bypass, Whitestown Way and the Old Bawn and Seskin View roads and meandered through estates such as Kilnamanagh, Avonbeg and Castleview.

“I thought it was a good idea to hit areas in Tallaght, we have some lovely parks”, Chris told The Echo.

During lockdown, Chris walked his 10-metre long garden daily for three months and also took part in Zoom dance classes with Hollywood Jive four times a week – so, was all set for his walking challenge.

“I’m looking forward to the centre re-opening and seeing all of the fellas again”, Chris said.

“The community centre has helped me to build up an awful lot of community relations.

“I’ve met so many people in the area that I wouldn’t have.

“It really has connected me to the community…we also formed a pitch and putt club out of the Men’s Group.”

Centre manager Grainne Wall told The Echo that the community hub hopes to reopen in early August.

“We have had no income for the past three months but the efforts of Chris, Hollywood Jive and everyone who donated will help to get us up-and-running again”, Ms Wall said.

“A huge thanks to everyone.”

Ms Wall said that it is hoped to reopen the community centre, which held a small socially distant reception for Chris when he finished his walk, by early August.

At the time of The Echo going to print Chris has raised close to €1,800 of his €2,000 goal.

To support Chris and the Kingswood Community Centre donate on gofundme.com.

Follow the Kingswood Community Centre on Facebook for more.

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