MANY people have had to make sacrifices since the coronavirus crisis struck.
One of the more visible ones was taken by Paul Creagh, an emergency department nurse at Cork University Hospital.
The Bandon man had to shave off his distinctive Viking-style beard in order to wear the masks necessary in dealing with the pandemic — and decided he would raise money for charity when doing so.
Paul, underlining the fact that superheroes don’t always wear capes, donated the money raised from his charity shave to Marymount Hospice and The Bandon Day Care Centre.
“Staff working at the hospital are wearing masks because of coronavirus and due to health and safety measures,” explained Paul. “I need to be able to fit my mask firmly and securely on my face when I go to work.
“It is important to protect myself and other people. That was the main reason the beard had to go.”
Paul mulled over making a charity gesture as he awaited his date with the razor.
“When I was off for a few days, I thought about shaving off my beard and raising some funds for Marymount, supporting cancer patients and their families, and also for Bandon Day Care Centre that support the elderly in the community.
“I put the idea of shaving off my beard to a few pals, they said why not? It’s a bit of fun. And it took off from there.”
Parting with his beard could be sweet sorrow.
“I’ve had it for 15 years!”
It was also a drastic change of face for the 44-year-old father of three daughters.
“Yes!” agrees Paul. “I’m not sure my girls, Analie, Willow, and Fia, will recognise me. My patients at the hospital might not either when I go back on shift!”
Apart from bidding farewell to his familiar beard, Paul, who is at the frontline every day beside his co-health workers helping to fight Covid-19, is raising vital funds for two causes close to his heart.
“My dad, Tom, passed away five years ago on March 22,” he says.
Paul decided to mark his dad’s fifth anniversary in a unique way. Bidding adieu to his beard, he made the parting count.
“Dad received wonderful care and support from Bandon Day Care Centre, who do such great work for the elderly and their carers in our community and that provides respite facilities.
“When he was ill, dad availed of the Bandon Day Care Centre as well as the Day Care Centre in Marymount, who provide a fantastic service to cancer patients and their families.
“Dad got great support there too. We were also grateful for the palliative care service Marymount provided for dad. The essential facilities like the Daffodil Centre and the Night Nurse Service that the Irish Cancer Society provides for people who need them most are brilliant.”
Caring for people is a Creagh family trait.
“My two sisters were nursing abroad and they came home to help care for dad during his illness,” says Paul.
He is aware that because Daffodil Day collections and coffee mornings were cancelled this year owing to the coronavirus outbreak, the Irish Cancer Society is in need of the public’s continued support now more than ever. Daffodil Day takes place in Ireland every March.
“The Irish Cancer Society took the decision to cancel all Daffodil Day street collections and events that were scheduled for March 27,”said Averil Power, CEO of the Society.
“We made the decision to protect the health and wellbeing of our patients, volunteers and supporters.
“We also want to focus all our energies on providing cancer patients and their families with the information, advice and support that they need at this time.”
Daffodil Day, supported by Boots Ireland, is the Irish Cancer Society’s biggest fundraiser.
Funds raised go towards supporting cancer patients and their loved ones by providing free advice and support, as well as by funding life-saving cancer research.
“I think the Irish Cancer Society is feeling the effects of no collections or coffee mornings this year,” says Paul.
“They were always two good things to help people fight cancer.”
Paul, saying goodbye to his impressive beard, part of his identity, is doing a good thing.
“Marymount and Bandon Day Care Centre are two good beneficiaries.”
His initial goal of raising €800 for his local day care centre and for Marymount Hospice was more than surpassed in a matter of days. The fund is almost at €8,000
“I was surprised that happened in such a quick space of time,” says Paul.
“I’m sharing 50% of the funds raised to each charity.”
The emergency department CUH nurse is delighted that he is being so well supported by his partner, Emma, family, friends, colleagues and his community in his quest to raise funds for two very worthy causes.
Paul is happy too that the general public are getting behind the HSE initiative to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The public are rowing in with the HSE guidelines. They have bought into it, which is great,” says Paul.
“The Government and the Opposition too are really stepping up to the challenge.”
Everyone is rowing in to help contain and beat Coid-19.
“The whole hospital is geared up since January, helping in the emergency ward, moving things around to facilitate patients.”
Did Paul always want to be a nurse? Was it a vocation for him?
“Yes,” says Paul. “I started nursing in 1999. So I’m working as a nurse now more than 20 years.
“I really enjoy my job and that’s a really good thing.”
See Paul Creagh gofundme page: Beard Shaving for Marymount and Bandon Day Care.
Bandon Day Care Family Resource Centre,. Deer Park, Bandon. Phone: 087 9080767
Marymount University Hospital and Hospice, Curragheen, Bishopstown, Cork. Phone:021-4501201