A HEARTBREAKING scene showed the head of a charity alone at Cork Airport on what should have been the day they flew out dozens of brave kids to Disneyland.
For the first time in 25 years, John Looney from the Cork City Hospitals Children's Club made the trip to Cork Airport without the children he supports.
Some 50 children, who had suffered illness or trauma, were due to leave for the trip of a lifetime today.
Instead, a high number have been left cocooning and likely wondering about what might have been.
Mr Looney had his photograph taken at the location to highlight what the charity has lost and appeal to the public for vital funds.
He urged people not to forget the organisation or the children they support.
A number of children had already been selected to go on the trip along with a host of volunteers, many of whom are frontline workers.
"We are devastated and heartbroken for the children especially for the families who had already been told they were going," Mr Looney said.
"Many of the children must have found it difficult in lockdown.
"This is the first time in 25 years I have been home for Halloween. I even had to ask my daughter when Halloween was as I hadn't experienced it in such a long time."
He spoke of the bitter-sweet feelings associated with the trip's anniversary.
"It's a horrible feeling. It's sad, it's lonely. All I can think of is these children who have been so brave throughout the pandemic."
The Cork man added that his thoughts are also with Cork Airport staff.
"At the moment our hearts are also with the staff of Cork Airport who are going through an uncertain time"
Mr Looney stressed that it's not just the kids who are affected by the trip's cancellation this year.
"This isn't just the highlight of the year for the kids. It's the highlight of the year for the people who read about this in the newspaper and listen to news of the trip on the radio. It's also the highlight of the year for many of the airport staff who meet the kids before they leave for the trip. Over the years, many of them have become great friends to us."
The charity founder remains hopeful about a Covid-19 vaccine in the future.
"The only time we'll really be able to turn a corner is when a vaccine is introduced."
John Looney also works tirelessly to give children a Christmas party which sees kids leave Cork University Hospital in vintage cars for a party in Fota House. The Cork man was due to hold the event at an alternative location this year. Nonetheless, he said that with the increase in Covid-19 cases this will no longer be possible.
"Luckily, we have been able to offer a couple of staycations to the families of children who needed breaks from hospital appointments. This all came from our own funds so our hope is that hotels and businesses will be able to offer weekends away for our families when it is safe to do so."
To find out more about the Cork City Hospitals Children's Club or find details on how to donate visit https://www.facebook.com/corkchildrensclub/ --