Plea to save annual children’s festive event

Plea to save annual children’s festive event

John Looney, chairperson of Cork City Hospitals Children’s Club, with nurse Fiona Murphy and garda Aoife Walsh at Cork University Hospital for the annual Cork City Hospitals Children’s Club annual Christmas day out to the magical winter wonderland at Fota House.

THE founder of a Cork charity that provides trips and days out for children who have suffered with illness or trauma has issued a desperate plea to save its annual Christmas event.

John Looney from the Cork City Hospitals Children’s Club has announced that this will be the organisation’s last Christmas at Fota House where they have been treating children to a festive day out for the last 14 years.

While Mr Looney said it will be sad to move on, he stressed that it was necessary to protect the integrity of such an old house.

The former Cork Person of the Year started the charity 25 years ago and heads a team of volunteers bringing kids to Disneyland Paris each year.

He 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 said it would be a dream come true to hold their next event in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“We were told four weeks ago that we will no longer be able to use the venue. We would like to thank Fota House for all they have done for us and the kindness they have shown us.”

He described it as the end of an era adding: “It’s sad to move on as Fota House has given us some lovely memories. One of the children uttered her first words to Santa Claus at four years old. On another occasion, the whole of Cork was up in arms that the Taoiseach had got a garda escort on a day when the traffic was chock-a-block. It turned out that it wasn’t the Taoiseach at all, but the children from the children’s club on their way to Fota House.”

Mr Looney said he wished to reach out to the owners of Páirc Uí Chaoimh to gain access to the venue for next year’s event.

“The Lord Mayor once described the event as the start of Christmas in Cork. We would like to continue what has become a very Cork tradition in another venue. I’d make sure it wouldn’t cost the GAA a penny. We will even bring our own Christmas trees and decorations.”

He said that the people of Cork have never let them down during times of need.

“The whole of Cork comes together to make this event what it is,” he said. “There was one year when the army got on board to de-ice the roads and ensure we made it to Fota House.”

Mr Looney remains positive about securing a new venue.

“We are feeling very hopeful,” he said. “The privacy of the venue would be ideal. There’d always be plenty of space for Santa Claus to land with his reindeers. Another important factor for us is that the venue is warm, fully wheelchair accessible and has a flat surface. We can’t think of anywhere more suitable than Páirc Uí Chaoimh.”

He emphasised how much previous events have meant to the parents of ill children.

“Since we began the Cork City Hospitals Childrens’ Club 54 children gained their wings. It reminds us of how important these events are. “

Anyone willing to help John Looney has been invited to contact him on Facebook or email

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