DOUGLAS woman Anne Weldon puts her passion for photography to good use every Christmas, by producing a top quality calendar to raise funds for the Alzheimer Society of Ireland Day Care Centre in Bessboro, Blackrock, Cork.
The photographic wall calendar features Irish landscape scenes as well as some stunning photographs of birds and flowers.
“Being interested in photography opens your eyes to what’s around you. I’m always watching cloud formations and I’m always keen to capture our stunning landscapes when out and about,” says Anne.
“I’m fiercely interested in birds and flowers and a lot of those photos would come from my own garden or that of my sister, Katherine.
“I always put a picture of a robin in the calendar, as a kind of superstition, I suppose. A lot of people seem to love them,” Anne adds.
Her passion for photography is matched only by her commitment to raising much needed funds for the Alzheimer Day Care Centre.
"I initially started fundraising for the Day Care Centre having observed the wonderful caring environment and amazing support it provided to a close family friend on his long dementia journey.
"It was a safe haven with fantastic staff that treated all their clients like family,” she added.
The fact that the Bessboro Day Care Centre also helps and supports the families of those living with Alzheimer’s made a lasting impression on Anne.
“With the serious effects of Covid-19 since March, 2020, it is even more vital to raise much needed funds to support the Alzheimer Society of Ireland this year,” Anne stresses.
From the start, Anne has had fantastic support from friends, family, colleagues, and the business community.
Last year, the Alzheimer Society started selling her calendars online through their website and it proved so successful that they are offering the same facility this year.
The calendars can also be bought at the following locations: The Ballinlough Post Office counter; O’Driscoll’s Superstore, Ballinlough; On the Pigs Back Café Deli; St Patrick’s Woollen Mills, Douglas; and Castlemartyr House Gallery and Gifts, Castlemartyr, Co. Cork.
Prior to the Covid-19 restrictions, Anne was fortunate enough to be given access to work places and venues where she could sell the calendars.
“I was always amazed by the number of people who indicated that someone close to them had been on the dementia journey. A quiet word and a leaflet from the Day Care Centre always helped tremendously,” she said.
Back in 2013, Anne approached Jon Hinchliffe, Operations Co-Ordinator of ASI, with her fundraising proposal. Jon and all the Bessboro Day Care staff gave Anne every support, including inviting her to set up a stand at social events in the Centre to enable clients’ families to purchase the calendars.
Anne is particularly grateful to Rhona Gerrard from the Day Care Centre, who organises all the post and packaging for calendars sold through the Alzheimer Society website.
The calendars are printed by Little Island based Cola Design+Print studio. Anne is indebted to Managing Director, Norman Coleman, and Design Consultant, Clara Kelly, for their unfailing helpfulness and attention to detail.
Jerry Foley, Bessboro Day Care Centre Manager, said they really appreciate Anne’s support: “It means so much to us in the Day Care Centre to have people like Anne Weldon supporting us. The amount of sales Anne generates through her calendars is huge. We’re funded in the Centre by the HSE but a lot of our funding would also be from contributions from the public.”
Jerry was just settling into his newly-appointed role when Covid struck: “That first year of lockdown was very strange. There would only be two or three of us here doing paperwork. All you’d have for company were the birds you’d hear singing through the skylight,” recalls Jerry.
The staff had to take down the clients’ pictures and drawings from the walls for infection control
“That day, it felt like the colour was fading from the Centre”, admits Jerry.
Once clearance was given, the daycare staff put in trojan efforts to visit the clients in their own homes to keep up their spirits.
Thankfully, the refurbished centre re-opened last July, albeit with limited numbers.
“That day was magic, it was a sunny day and it felt like a party. Since then, we have been able to up the number of days we open and the number of clients we can bring in.
“We can’t bring in external volunteers yet but the staff are outgoing and musical and we work to our strengths. The clients are happy that we make an effort,” says Jerry.
Calendars can be bought online at:
https://store.alzheimer.ie/ For more call (021) 497 2504.
The Alzheimer National Helpline is 1800 341 341.