And the Carer of the Year award goes to...

FULL-TIME family carer Therese Buckley, from Outrath in Kilkenny, has been announced as the Kilkenny/Carlow Carer of the Year.

FULL-TIME family carer Therese Buckley, from Outrath in Kilkenny, has been announced as the Kilkenny/Carlow Carer of the Year.

Therese, who has four children, was presented with her award this morning, along with bouquets of flowers and gifts generously donated by local businesses. The award was presented by Pat Grogan of the Carers’ Association at a ceremony in the MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre, attended by friends and family.

“I’m absolutely overwhelmed and humbled,” said the gracious mum-of-four.

“I could only accept this on behalf of all carers, and not just myself. I just want to say thanks to Pat [Grogan] and for all the support that the Carers Association have given us all.”

Therese’s children are all under 13 years of age - Charlie (13), Cian (11), Alex (8) and Dillon (6). Cian, Alex and Dillon all suffer form neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition which affects the nerve tissue.

Currently, Cian is waiting to undergo a cardiac catheterisation. The procedure was originally scheduled to happen three weeks ago, but every week, the family has been told that no bed is available.

This is just a snapshot of the circumstances that Therese, who has a path worn to the door of Crumlin Hospital, copes with daily. She says that organisations like the Carers’ Association, the O’ Neill Centre and Enable Ireland have been invaluable in helping her and her husband.

Looking after her children is a full-time job, and carers like Therese have seen their support services whittled away by successive Government cuts.

“There is no recognition for children with special needs from the Government,” she said.

“They don’t have a voice, and the carers are trying to be their voice. We have to be advocates and fundraisers as well as carers.

“Domiciliary care is being taken away, and many of us have had to give up our jobs, so families now have just one income instead of two.”

Therese has set up a support group in Kilkenny for all parents with special needs children. She has also set up Kilkenny Arch Club, a social kids club for children with special needs, which meets on the first Wednesday in St Patrick’s Parish Centre in Loughboy.

As Kilkenny/Carlow Carer of the Year 2012, Therese will be put forward as a contender for the Leinster Carer of the Year award. The Leinster Carer of the Year will then attend the annual Carers of the Year Awards on May 30, whereby one regional recipient is awarded Carer of the Year 2012.

Pat Grogan, area manager for the Carers’ Association in Carlow/Kilkenny, said that while it was hard to pick one carer out of everyone, Therese fully deserved her award.

“Therese would be a role model for every family carer out there,” he said.

“The amount of work she puts in is just incredible.”

“She is really deserving of this. It is something for herself, because she doesn’t really think a lot about herself.

The O’ Neill Centre is now inviting everyone to come and climb Croagh Patrick with Ducksy Walsh and other GAA celebrities, for the children in the O ‘Neill centre (Enable Ireland).

You can avail of the free bus (round day trip) with Ducksey and gang or make a weekend of it in Westport .

Each year, fundraisers strive to raise €170,000 to maintain essential core services at the centre. The centre’s ethos is to provide equal services to all children availing of the services. Even with the annual cutbacks, the centre have never cut back on quality or quantity of services provided .

If you wish to do the climb or sponsor one of the gang, please phone the O’ Neill centre on 056-7762326.