Thanks to your support, the Tesco Community Fund has been able to help a number of well deserving local causes in Leinster. As you can imagine, there are a lot of hard working and in need organisations across the 12 counties and we’ll do our best to update you on how they’re getting on as we check in on them from time to time. The causes supported by the Tesco Community Fund come in all shapes and sizes and some of these groups in Leinster, which we are about to show you, are certainly a testament to that. From scouts, to therapeutic horse riding, to powerchair soccer, your blue tokens are doing great work in the East of the country.
The Wicklow Hospice Foundation
The Tesco Community Fund is helping thousands of local causes across Ireland, donating over €2.1 million to over 7,500 local projects since 2014. Over the past week, Tesco stores have presented over 450 local projects causes with €120,000 worth of donations from the Community Fund, enabling them to make a big difference in communities’ right across Ireland.
One beneficiary is The Wicklow Hospice Foundation which recently participated in the Tesco Community Fund in all six Tesco stores across County Wicklow. The Foundation received support from Tesco customers across Wicklow who used their blue tokens to help the Hospice raise funds to commence the building of the 15-bed hospice.
Pictured are Geoff Byrne, (Chief Operations Officer Tesco Ireland), Joanne Doyle (Regional Manager) and Michael O'Reilly, (Store Director) who presented Sinead Tarmey and Evanne Cahill of the Wicklow Hospice Foundation with a Tesco Community Fund donation of €2194.92 from the six stores Tesco stores across Wicklow.
Tesco customers can simply fill out a nomination form in store and every 8 weeks, three local causes will be selected for the Tesco Community Fund. Customers can also nominate a cause online via: www.tesco.ie/communityfund. And at the end of each phase, blue token votes are counted and up to €1,000 is shared proportionally between the three local projects. Further information and criteria for entry is available on www.tesco.ie/communityfund.
Halpin School of Irish Dance, Ballyfermot
Well aware of the financial pressures on the parents of their pupils, the teachers at the Doyle Halpin School of Irish Dance in Ballyfermot entered their local Tesco Community Fund initiative to help fund their ambition of going to the All-Ireland Competition in Killarney.
Sonya Doyle and her fellow teachers at the school explained: “We supply class costumes to every single child in the school through fundraising. This means that when children start out in dancing, there’s no massive outlay for their parents. Providing a costume gives them a good start and they are then passed down to other children. If a dancer progresses and needs advanced level costumes, these can vary in cost from €200 to €2,000 for parents.”
With this in mind and hoping to help keep costs down for the parents, the donation from their local Tesco store was put towards competition fees and transport to the All-Ireland Competition.
“Being able to put on transport and covering the competition fees meant that parents were able to come along without an extra financial burden and show their support in Kerry. There were 53 solo entries across the various categories and every one of them achieved a top 10 finish, so it was a very successful trip.”
Wheels For Liv, Shankill, Co. Dublin
Majella is the mother of five-year-old Liv, who was born with congenital CMV and microcephaly. As a result, Liv has significant physical, medical and intellectual needs and requires round-the-clock care.. “She’s a fighter and she gives us strength. We learn from her every day. Liv has epilepsy, scoliosis and orthopaedic issues. But underestimate her at your peril, Liv is the boss in our house” says Majella.
Majella and Colin set up the Wheels for Liv fund in order to buy a specially modified car for their daughter. “Liv is a wheelchair user, so I’m lifting her a lot,” says Majella. “She’s a tall girl, 17 kilos and a dead weight. I am finding it difficult, as the wheelchair is heavy. I have to take it apart to fit it into the boot of our Renault Megane, and it’s quite tight.
“I don’t want to hurt Liv, and I don’t want to get hurt. You try to be as careful as possible, but she’ll cry. She doesn’t like being moved around so if she’s in her own chair, she’ll be more comfortable.”
The modified car arrived in October and is already making a huge difference to Majella and Liv’s quality of life. “If I’m only popping out to the shops and it’s raining, it’s a big hassle. I used to have to put the wheelchair together or I ran with her in my arms, and she’s getting too heavy. I take her with me 99% of the time, but it is so much easier now to wheel her into a car.”
It was a real community effort to fundraise for this car. Majella applied for the Tesco Community Fund in both the Shankill and Park Pointe stores, and received support from both stores. “We also put on a few fundraising events that were really successful. We couldn’t have imagined how good everyone would be.”
Majella made a point of organising some child-friendly events, including a sponsored walk around Shankill. She really wanted Liv’s brother Fionn to be involved in the fundraising being carried out for his sister, and to have good memories of them. “Fionn and his friends had a ball. We exceeded our target, so I put a stop to everything then. I felt that we did what we came for, and I wanted someone else to benefit. We had been lucky enough to do even better than we thought so it was someone’s turn.”
Majella and Colin told the Tesco colleagues from the Park Pointe store that they had reached their target and they were happy if the money raised for Liv was given to another cause, but the colleagues still wanted them to have the donation. Majella added “The support we received from the Tesco colleagues was amazing. There’s always something that Liv needs, so we really appreciate the support of the store teams and the community fund.”
CMV is a common viral infection and is usually harmless. However, catching it for the first time when pregnant can have devastating effects and cause serious health problems and substantial disabilities.
“We were told there were possible difficulties at the 20-week scan,” says Majella, “and I was monitored for the rest of my pregnancy. I probably caught it in the first trimester when her brain was developing. Such bad luck.”
Yet, Majella is unfailing positive, even as she admits that life is difficult for her family. “Liv is a fabulous little girl, and she’s brought me into a different world, one I didn’t imagine existed, to be honest. I’ve met some of the nicest, most genuine people who show you nothing but support. The mammies and daddies of those with special needs are amazing.”
Liv started big school in September. Her mother says that it is a big challenge for her. “I used to take her everywhere I went, and now she wants to be with me all the time. She does have separation anxiety at school but I know she’ll love it because she has great curiosity.”
Liv also loves music, particularly nursery rhymes and the sound of children singing. “We have great journeys in the car listening to nursery rhymes,” says Majella.
Knockbridge Brownies, Co. Louth
The brownie motto is ‘Lend a hand’, and leader Caroline McNally takes it seriously. There are 34 brownies in the Knockbridge group, and there should really only be 30, according to IGG rules, but Caroline can’t bear the thought of any child being left out. She hates that there is already a waiting list for next year.
Its popularity isn’t surprising. Being a brownie is all about having fun, as they tackle the serious business of learning to help others, enjoying the outdoors, playing games and doing crafts, while working on awards and badges.
There are over 30 Brownie badges to collect in everything from First Aid, to bird watching, from environmental awareness to pet care. So there really is something for every girl in the group, who range in age from seven to 10 years.
“It’s about trying different things and helping the children to discover a talent that they didn’t know they possessed,” says Caroline. “It’s great for a child’s confidence. There’s no competition, no winners or losers. There’s a real emphasis on teamwork, and on learning life skills. We got texts from parents thanking us after we played a game of how to hang clothes on the line. It’s great to see children grow out of themselves. They might come in all shy, but soon they’re mixing with others.”
Seventeen brownies from the Knockbridge group recently mixed with 131 of their peers for their very first experience of an international girl-guide camp in Co Down. They did archery, rope climbs and grass-sledging, took part in a talent show, and even learned how to correctly put on a sari as part of the camp’s theme of cultural unity.
Although the group had to borrow tents for the camp, next year when the girls go to camp in Tipperary, they will be sleeping in brand new tents, thanks to the donation they received from the Tesco Community Fund.
Caroline says “The fund is brilliant, the new tents mean that we can take the girls away more often and teach them lots of new skills, while they mix with other brownies from all across the country.”
The Tesco Community Fund also helps subsidise away days which are also supported by the weekly fee of €3 each, with a one-off yearly payment of €40 to cover the cost of hall rental, insurance and supplies and so on.
As Caroline says: “You’d never go canoeing or running through bogs on a normal family day out. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve done for the first time with the brownies that I’ll never forget and I know our brownies feel the same.”
St Mary’s Brass & Breed Band, Maynooth Co. Kildare
St. Mary’s Brass & Breed Band from Maynooth is one of hundreds of bands that the Community Fund has supported to date.
Paddy Boyd, Vice Chairman of the Band, has been a member of St Mary’s Brass and Reed Band of Maynooth for 61 years. During this time, the band has become integral part of the local community in Maynooth, and indeed it has an impressive history. As one of the oldest bands in the country, the band members have performed at the papal mass in Dublin’s Phoenix Park in 1979, they won the best band award at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Kansas City and they were the only civil band involved in the 2012 Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.
A lot of the bands recitals take place outdoors, especially in winter. They can regularly be heard at Castletown House in Celbridge and Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park. The band members are delighted to put the donation they received from the Tesco Community Fund towards new uniform coats that will keep them warm and dry while still looking stylish. After all, they have a reputation to uphold. They did win best dressed band at a Limerick marching band competition in the 1980s, beating off much international competition.
Paddy, who also plays euphonium, as well as the trumpet and trombone, says “We’re absolutely delighted to have been involved with the Tesco Community Fund. We’ll certainly look the part with our new uniforms! In voting for us with the blue tokens, Tesco customers were helping financially, but were also raising the awareness of our band. We’d like to say a massive thank you to the local community and to our local Tesco store in Maynooth.”
The Midlands Astronomy Club (MAC) Co. Offaly
The Midlands Astronomy Club (MAC) is one of 144 causes in Offaly that has benefited from the Tesco Community Fund. As the only amateur astronomy club in the country that has its own observing site, MAC is always fundraising for new projects, and they are so passionate about their hobby that they even built their own observatory complete with telescopes to open up the skies to those young and old.
MAC has ambitious plans for the future. The club currently has between 50 and 60 members, ranging in age from seven years old to 80 plus. Attracting new members is one of the biggest challenges it faces, along with a lack of funding.
“We have major plans for the site,” says Jason Fallon, Club Secretary, “but money is always a problem. We want to hold lectures and have school tours. We need to refresh the observatory, to repaint it and to replace the telescope with a more powerful one. The donation from Tesco Community Fund means a lot, and it makes a real difference. We don’t get any outside funding, and this donation takes the pressure from members to pay for things out of their own pockets.”
Bellurgan FC Dundalk, Co. Louth
For the players of Bellurgan FC in Dundalk, Co. Louth, their biggest rivals can be found off the pitch. Its members range in age from seven-years-old to their over 60s and the football club really relies on community support to help with their running costs. However, it is situated in a GAA stronghold and while Coach Neil Clynch feels that the local sporting competition really benefits the community, he admits that it’s difficult to raise money when there are so many competing worthy causes, so some innovative thinking was required.
For regular income, the club started a local lotto draw to boost their coffers but other, bigger clubs had a similar idea. That was when one of their members asked if there was enough funding to advertise the local lotto so that passers-by could get involved. There wasn’t, but that’s where the Tesco Community Fund came in.
The club were nominated and chosen for the next Community Fund cycle in Tesco Extra Dundalk and eight weeks later, after lots of community support and all of their teams piling into the store to vote using their blue tokens, they received a cheque from their local store.
A few weeks later, up went the clubs advertising sign, as did the interest in their local lotto and funding for their club.
They may have been the smallest club, in the smallest county in Ireland but they weren’t too small to make a big difference with the help of their local Tesco store.
“The Tesco Community Fund is a brilliant idea,” says Club Secretary, Austin Traynor. “Every penny is really precious and we are very grateful to it and to everyone in Tesco Extra Dundalk”.
Timahoe National School Sensory Garden, Laois
At Timahoe N.S Friendship Week this year, a new project to create a sensory outdoor space for the pupils in the two special classes at the school began. The area had to be cleaned and cleared, then each class opted for a role to fill this space with plants, flowers, a water feature and "feely" equipment.
Junior Infants recycled, Senior Infants painted tractor tyres and planted flowers, while 3rd & 4th classes recycled material to create a sensory hoop and wall.
The special classes at the school are for Early Intervention for pupils with autism and were established in September 2014. The classes are in temporary accommodation in the village, but often come to the main school building for gatherings and events. Now this sensory space gives the students a new option for inclusion.
Also, a programme of reverse integrations is now on-going whereby pupils from mainstream classes join in with the curriculum at 10am in the Naiscoil (the new name given to the classes after an in-school competition.)
Through the Tesco Community Fund and the support of customers at Tesco Portlaoise, €360.22 was presented to Timahoe N.S to fund the sensory garden project.
Daisyhouse is a non-profit, non-government funded organisation and approved housing body that supports women of homelessness so they can take back their lives. With each woman receiving safe and secure accommodation and a uniquely personally tailored support programme catered to their needs, Daisyhouse empowers the women it takes in to rebuild their lives by teaching them to support themselves and creating a support system so that they can move forward from the problems which first made them homeless.
For the first time, in campaign 12 of the Community Fund, numerous stores worked together by all nominating Daisyhouse in their Community Fund in an effort to raise as much funds for the charity who are in dire need. By doing this, the 7 Dublin stores involved were able to donate an impressive €1,760 in just one campaign. This substantial amount will go towards paying for part of the personalised support programme which empowers the women, teaches them necessary skills and helps them better manage the issues which resulted in their homelessness with the aim of them moving on independently.
Olivia’s Special Horses, Co. Meath
Olivia’s Special Horses was established in September 2014, in memory of Olivia Doyle who sadly passed away at the age of 11 in February 2014. Despite Olivia's profound disabilities she had a huge love for horses and outdoor life. This prompted her mother Emma Donohue to pursue a career in therapeutic riding to aid other children and adults with special needs.
Olivia’s Special Horses aims to facilitate children and adults with physical, emotional and cognitive disabilities. Therapeutic horse riding has been used to help children with autism. This activity is said to benefit the communication, motor skills, and social skills of an autistic child. The donation was used towards a summer fun day for children in the local community who could benefit from this unique service.
“We rely on donations and fundraising events,” says Trish Flood of Olivia’s Horses. “We have had amazing feedback from parents regarding our camps and it was great to be able to use the donation from our local Tesco store toward a camp day for the children in the local community who could benefit from the service we offer. We know from our own experiences that it can be extremely difficult to find activities suitable for children with special needs. We were delighted to be chosen as a charity for the Tesco Community Fund.”
Finglas First Responders, North Dublin
Nominated twice for the Tesco Community fund, the Finglas First Responders are a volunteer community life saving group, providing fast response to cardiac and emergency events until an ambulance arrives. First responders are dispatched after a 999 call comes through and the HSE are notified. The Responders programme spans a 2km radius so emergency cases can be reached in eight minutes.
Bill Mullen, one of the volunteers said: “The donation from the Tesco Community Fund programme has helped us buy new training equipment like our new CPR Mannequin and Training AED; this allows us to train new Responders and to help keep our own skills up to date. We’d like to say a big thank you to Tesco and to our community for nominating and voting for us.”
Midlands United Powerchair Soccer, Co. Offaly
Ever heard of Powerchair Soccer? Neither had we but we have now and we now know all about the great work Midlands United Powerchair Soccer club is doing for their local community. Power Chair football is the first competitive team sport designed and developed specifically for power wheelchair users. The teams are made up of both male and female members of all ages who use their skill of using their wheelchair along with the speed of the chair itself in a competitive way.
Catherine Donogher from the organisation said: “We know how difficult it can be for people with disabilities to get involved in sport and we feel Powerchair brings users from the community together bringing a social and sporting aspect into their lives. Fundraising is difficult, as we seem to be always asking the same small business and people for sponsorship so every little helps. The local community is so important for fundraising and this is why the Tesco Community Fund really worked for us.
Drogheda Brass Band, Co. Louth
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the Drogheda Brass Band. An integral part of the community in County Louth, the Drogheda Brass Band has served the town for over 126 continuous years and has performed at all the major civic occasions in the town during that time. In addition to appearing at civic and community events, ensembles from their senior and youth bands perform in local schools, and it is a long-standing tradition for members to give up time on Christmas morning to play for the sick and the elderly - the true meaning of community spirit.
Michael Plunkett one of the organisers of the Drogheda Brass Band said: “Founded in 1886, we are a community-based organization, operating a Senior Band, Youth Band and School of Music with a total membership of circa 80 people. Drogheda Brass Band has been one of Ireland’s leading bands for many years, performing regularly at many venues. Both our Senior Band and Youth Band have been extremely successful at competition level nationally and internationally. We are extremely grateful for the help we received via the Tesco Community Fund. This has helped us to continue to invest in the development of the band and our on-going service to the local community through replenishment of our instrument stock, purchase of new music and uniforms, in addition to normal overhead”.
Balally Scouts Group, South Dublin
Say hello to the boys, girls and hardworking instructors of the 137th Balally Scouts Group. Nominated twice for the fund, the organisation works to teach children and young adults about team work, independence and practical skills, providing an invaluable service and development opportunity for the next generation within the community.
Dorothy Roe, one of the Balally Scouts Group organisers said: “Scouting Ireland offers Girls and Boys fun, adventure and excitement in the outdoors. We operate in over 400 communities across the whole island of Ireland facilitating young people from 6 upward to learn skills in a friendly and collaborative environment. These photos were taken with Balally Beavers in Dublin which serves the Sandyford area where Tesco has helped the group by facilitating them via their community fund”.
New Ross Day Care Centre, Co. Wexford
Tesco customers across Wexford have been quick to show their support for the Elderly community, with some of their highest voting for local Elderly Care Services. One community cause, which was nominated for the Tesco Community Fund, was New Ross Day Care Centre.
The Centre provides care and support for the elderly population of New Ross and the surrounding areas to help maintain their independence in their home environment for as long as possible. 70% of the attendees are living alone with the other 30% mainly living with elderly spouses.
Martina McKinstry from the New Ross Care Centre said: “The Day Care Centre is a lifeline for certain people within the local community as it is available Monday to Friday. The Day Care buses provide safe transport to and from the centre. We depend on our local community to help us to provide our services; any donation big or small makes a huge difference which is why funds like the Tesco Community Fund really help us to continue our work.”
Wolfe Tone Baton Twirlers, Co. Wicklow
Set up just five years ago and already making an international name for themselves, the Wolfe Tone Baton Twirlers has seen considerable success in a short space of time.
They provide a place for young boys and girls to learn to dance and improve their coordination and flexibility. Speaking about their work in the community, co-founder and coach Nessa O’Carroll said: “Rebecca Britton and I started the Wolfe Tone Baton Twirlers 5 years ago and since then we have seen it go from strength to strength. We are the current all Ireland Champions 2015 in the ABTI Federation and we placed second overall while representing Ireland in the European Championships. We offer a place for young boys and girls to learn how to dance, have fun and make friends. The funds from the blue tokens helped us get new costumes for the upcoming year of twirling, so when we compete at the national competition we will be in our new kit!”
Let's Keep it going!
We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know some of the organisations in your area that are providing great services to community thanks to your support. We’ve been able to help thousands of local community causes all across the country and it all starts with those blue tokens, so let’s keep going. You can learn all about how the Tesco Community fund works here.
Henry Dummer, Marketing Director Tesco Ireland said: “As one of Ireland’s biggest retailers, some people might feel we’re too big to care, but we’re big on the things that matter to our customers, community being one of them. And with 149 stores we have a unique opportunity to help thousands of community causes across Ireland through our Community Fund.”
“Our customers are the driving force behind the initiative, deciding who in their community deserves a little help, and that’s why it works. So we would urge everyone to keep this going and nominate a cause that could do with a little boost or that simply deserves some recognition for the great service it provides to the local area.”