A CORK beauty queen has told of her devastation at losing a loved one to Motor Neurone Disease, ahead of a ball she is organising in their honour.
Aoife O’Sullivan, from Ballinadee, has been working with a number of charities throughout her reign as Miss Ireland.
However, her event in aid of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association has been particularly close to her heart.
“I lost my grandmother to Motor Neurone Disease,” the primary school teacher explained.
She opened up about her grandmother, Brigid, who died in 2014 — a year and a half after her diagnosis with the illness which involves the degeneration of the motor neurones and muscle wasting.
“The disease was so fast that she eventually ended up in a wheelchair and needed support for breathing at nighttime,” Aoife added. “She was a really independent and intelligent person so it was shocking to see her suddenly being restricted like this.”
Aoife praised the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association for the support they showed her family during the difficult time.
“This kind of support is so important to someone when it comes to everyday living,” she said. “They offered occupational therapy and specialised equipment right down to special knives and forks. They also offer respite services which are really important.”
She emphasised the indiscriminate nature of the illness.
“When something like this happens there is a ripple effect that affects the whole family. Unfortunately, there is no age restriction on who the disease can target.”
The primary school teacher had always been close to her grandmother.
“We were always very close. She was the one who inspired me to become a primary school teacher. She had worked in my primary school before I was a student there but came back after retiring — this time as a resource teacher. I can remember being confused as to why my granny was in school with me, but it was also really inspiring.”
“Even through all the physical deterioration, my grandmother’s mind remained sharp. Throughout college, I would go to her for advice on my lesson plans. It gave her a sense of purpose to know that she was helping me on placement. We got on so well and she was always encouraging me to push myself. She had a lot of belief in me.”
Aoife urged people to donate to the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association.
“Charities are always going to be relying on the public to get involved. My hope is to do more in the future to help those who have been affected.”
The Greatest Show Charity Ball is taking place in aid of the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association (IMNDA) on Saturday, June 1 at 7pm in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Little Island. Tickets are €75 and available on eventbrite.