‘Transformation’ leader praises work of charity

By Aideen O'Flaherty

AN OPERATION Transformation leader, whose daughter has special needs, has spoken of his family’s excitement at meeting Republic of Ireland football manager Martin O’Neill and FAI boss John Delaney at the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation in Naas, and he praised the work of the charity.

Lucan man David Cryan (39), his wife Siobhan and their children Dylan (6) and Zoe (3) met the two football head honchos ahead of Jack and Jill Week which runs from October 7 to 13, to highlight the work of the children’s charity.

Cryan Family 2

David, who works as a community garda sergeant in Bridewell Garda Station and was one of the leaders in RTÉ’s Operation Transformation this year, became aware of the work of the Jack and Jill Foundation after his daughter Zoe was born.

Zoe was born prematurely at 24 weeks weighing only 540 grams, and her mother Siobhan is her full-time carer, as the young girl has cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease and has to be fed through a tube.

The family became aware of the work of the Jack and Jill Foundation, which provides home respite for children up to the age of four with severe neuro developmental delay and palliative conditions when Zoe was a year old and they were able to take her home from the hospital.

David told The Echo: “Zoe is wonderful, but she has extra needs so we have to plan everything.

“We would be lost without the Jack and Jill Foundation.”

David added that the Jack and Jill Foundation gives the family an opportunity to do small day-to-day things, like going to the bank or to the shop, with ease as Zoe is being looked after in her home by nurses from the charity.

“We’re lucky, we have such a great relationship with the nurses,” said David. “I can’t emphasise enough how great the nurses are.”

Martin O’Neill and John Delaney went to the Jack and Jill Foundation’s premises in Kildare to see the work of the foundation and to meet the families who have seen at  first hand the difference the charity can make.

Speaking about his family’s experience of meeting the two men, David said: “It was brilliant. They were both very nice and very interested in Jack and Jill.

He got his football and his jersey signed

“Dylan was more excited than Zoe because he’s into football – he got his football and his jersey signed.”

David publicly took on the challenge of losing weight and getting fit by being a leader on RTÉ’s Operation Transformation in January, and he went on to record the show’s biggest ever weight loss in the first week, after losing 1 stone 2.5lb.

Since then, David has stuck to the programme and continues to embrace fitness and healthy eating.

“It’s going well,” David said of his weight loss and fitness. “It’s a constant battle, but I’ve such great support.

“I’ve never been as fit, I think now I’m as fit as I was when I joined the guards 19 years ago.”

Reflecting on how his increased fitness has strengthened his relationship with his children, David said: “I’m there for them more now. I’ve got more time and more energy. It’s been life-changing.”

To find out more about the Jack and Jill Foundation and Jack and Jill Week, visit the charity’s website at www.jackandjill.ie

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