Happiness is a brand new bus for the kids

By Mary Dennehy

WATCH:

THE children cared for at Suzanne House are adventure-bound after their new bus arrived following a two-year fundraising drive.

Based in Tallaght village since 1986, Suzanne House is a home away from home for children with complex medical and nursing needs, or life-limiting conditions.

Suzanne House compressor

Niamh Cooney, Clinical Nurse Manager with Sarah Donohoe, St John of God fundraising manager

Suzanne House is currently providing care, support and respite services to 16 children, who each receive three nights (four days) of 24/7 respite a month.

In recent times money raised through fundraising has seen the once unusable back garden of Suzanne house transformed into a fully accessible, wheelchair-friendly playground for both service users and their visiting siblings.

All of the beds in the house have also been replaced through fundraising.

Last week, staff, families and children celebrated another exciting development after the community united in yet another fundraising drive, which has seen the charity’s first-ever bus parked up outside.

Following two years of fundraising, €70,000 was secured for the purchase of a new bus, which will allow three children and five nurses to go on outings.

Up until now, Suzanne House only had the use of a wheelchair-accessible car, which meant that children had to go on outings alone.

Sarah Donohoe, fundraising manager with St John of God Foundation, told The Echo: “We did have a bus-car that took one child and two nurses.

“We couldn’t bring kids out together, which made socialising difficult.

“However, now we can bring three children and five nurses out on trips to the zoo, cinema and swimming.”

She added: “This bus means everything.

“It will give the children more freedom, space and independence to experience the adventures that they couldn’t experience together before.

“All we want is to ensure that the children have the happiest of times and can do all of the things that other kids can do . . . like going to the cinema.

“The children we care for can’t talk, but they are aware of what’s going on and this bus will be massively positive for them.

“They all know each other and can now go on the bus together and spend time with their friends.”

While Suzanne House had to pay out in full for the bus, as a charity they will receive the VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax) back.

Ms Donohoe told The Echo that this money has been ring-fenced for the delivery of a sensory bathroom for the children.

“Not a penny donated will be wasted,” Ms Donohoe said.

Suzanne House has issued a heartfelt thank you to everybody who has fundraised and donated over the past two years.

An example of supporters include, Run for Rita, which raised €4,800, and James Roche of The Square who organised bucket collections in the shopping centre and secured a number of business contributions.

Parent Fiona Duffy, whose son Eoin is a service user, spent the past two years selling Christmas cards, organising clothes drives and baking cakes, with money raised through The Echo’s annual fundraiser in December 2017 also going towards the bus.

Support was also received from Suzanne House patron Gavin Duffy and a number of St John of God funders.

“We had such a great response”, Ms Donohoe said.

“We have an Excel spreadsheet full of people who helped and supported us, and we are very grateful.”

While Suzanne House is funded by the HSE, with support from St John of God, fundraising helps to ensure that Suzanne House continues to be a home away from home for the children it cares for.

For more visit www.suzannehouse.ie

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