New car won by grieving family who bought raffle ticket with loved one's loose change

New car won by grieving family who bought raffle ticket with loved one's loose change
The Birchall family with Santa at the Light up a life Marymount fundraiser where they won a new 2020 Toyota Yaris.

The grieving family of a man who spent the last months of his life in Marymount Hospital won a brand new, 2020 Toyota Yaris with a ticket bought from his loose change.

The Walsh and Birchall family from Wicklow won the car at the Marymount Light Up a Life ceremony on December 1.

Margaret Birchall’s brother Frank Walsh passed away in Marymount in the summer, having been under the care of Marymount for nearly two months. Frank was originally from Wicklow but had lived in Cork for the past 35 years.

He had a close-knit family with seven siblings, the majority of whom still live in Wicklow, including his sister Margaret.

On the day of Frank’s passing, Margaret, her daughter Erica Frank’s niece, Margaret’s husband and his brothers were packing up his belongings from his room in Marymount.

They came across some loose change of Frank, debated whether to put it towards their lunch but decided instead, in Frank’s honour, a man who liked an occasional bet, to buy some car raffle tickets at reception as they were leaving.

Unfortunately, the family were distracted on the day that was in it and wrote scant address details and left an old phone number.

On December 1, Bibi Baskin and Donncha O’Callaghan turned on the lights, amid beautiful choral music, a Christmas Market and Light Up a Life as well as fundraising stands for Marymount and plucked a ticket from the drum, only for it to be Margaret Birchall’s ticket!

Donnacha O'Callaghan pulls the winning ticket from the drum at the Light up a life Marymount fundraiser event on Dec 1 Pic. John Allen/Provision
Donnacha O'Callaghan pulls the winning ticket from the drum at the Light up a life Marymount fundraiser event on Dec 1 Pic. John Allen/Provision

The Walsh and Birchall family were after travelling down from Wicklow for the occasion as a way of remembering their much-missed Frank, however they missed the announcement amid the crowds.

After the event, the fundraising team tried calling the number on the ticket only to find it was out of service.

Later that night while updating Marymount’s social media head of fundraising and communications Paula McGovern came across some beautiful family images of the day of Marymount’s lit Christmas Tree on Instagram and got in touch with the Instagram user to ask if she could use them on Marymount’s own social media.

Paula could remember herself and Sarah McCloskey CEO watching the beautiful photo set up at the foot of the Marymount tree, just inches away from the newly won car.

As she was scrolling through the images, Paula noticed the profile user was Erica Birchall from Wicklow and wondered was it a relation of the ticket winner.

A few DMs later, a few identity checks made and a phonecall was made to the Birchall family as they made their way home to Wicklow from the Light up a life event in Cork to let them know that they were the winner of the 2020 Toyota Auris Car. A huge cheer went up in the car just off the N8.

“That phone call in the car was just one of the funniest things and so exciting for us all,” explains Margaret.

“We were in and out of Marymount so often in the summer and we bought so many tickets at so many times as a way to give something back.

“We are so delighted though that the winning ticket was bought by Frank’s money himself.

“How it all happened and came to pass - the fact that we bought the tickets from his change and all the near-misses with numbers and social media – Frank would have loved all of the craic and it really felt he was with us in the moment and it has made it so special. Christmas is a tough time of year and we really miss him. This has given us all a huge lift.” 

To continue to support Marymount you can make a dedication to a loved and sponsor a light on Marymount's online tree at marymount.ie.

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