Twomey Remorial event to raise awareness of mental health issues

Twomey Remorial event to raise awareness of mental health issues
Elber Twomey is meeting emergency services in Cork today to tell her heartbreaking story. Pic. Robbie Reynolds

A BRAVE Cork woman who lost her entire family to a suicidal driver in the UK says ‘not a day goes by that my voice doesn’t break when I talk about them’.

Elber Twomey from Meelin has become an inspirational road safety and suicide awareness advocate, with her campaign to improve training for emergency services workers. On the back of her campaign, police in the UK have changed their training protocols for handling ‘high-risk’ motorists.

Ms Twomey was meeting emergency services in Cork today to tell her heartbreaking story and to continue to campaign for better training in Ireland. In 2012, the former primary school teacher lost her 16-month-old son Oisín and unborn daughter Elber Marie while on holiday in Devon after a suicidal motorist drove into their car.

Elber’s husband, Connie, suffered devastating injuries in the crash and died in Cork University Hospital 10 months later.

“There’s not a day goes by that my voice doesn’t break when I talk about them. They will always be the loves of my life. However, the experience has taught me to value time.”

The traumatic ordeal forced Elber to leave her old life as a primary school teacher behind.

Six years on and Ms Twomey is preparing to sit her second year accountancy exams.

“I loved my job at the time, but I could never return to primary school teaching,” Elber said. “Being around kids would only force me to reflect on what stage my own children would be at if they were still here today. Going through that every day would be far too dangerous for my mind. I gave 16 years of my life to teaching so feel it’s time for me to move on now. I need a new start that doesn’t include any reminders of my old life.”

Elber said she is glad that education around mental health is becoming more widespread.

“I’m glad schools are focusing on mental health. With everyone stuck in tablets and phones it has become a lonely world so this sort of education is needed now more than ever.”

She urged those experiencing suicide ideation to seek help.

“Suicide has a knock-on effect and affects the whole community. If we can spare just one community this kind of grief it will all be worth it.”

After recovering from severe injuries, Elber, her brother Tomas, and two of Connie’s closest friends, Thomas Mahoney and Gerard Angland, launched the Twomey Family Remorial weekend to reiterate the value of life and raise awareness of mental health issues.

Now in its fifth year, the event will be held in Elber’s native Meelin and Rockchapel on Saturday, June 9, what would have been Connie’s birthday, and Sunday, June 10.

Senior UK police officials from Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, who helped investigate the tragedy, will attend as a gesture of solidarity.

While Elber said the support during this weekend is a comfort she prefers to spend the anniversary of the crash on July 6 alone.

“I will probably just go for a drive somewhere,” she said. “In some ways I am very blessed that I don’t remember the crash because I don’t have any fear about getting into a car. After the accident I gave my dad and brother money to buy me a car so that I’d be able to drive again.

“On December 25 of 2012, I drove for the first time since the accident so I’d be able to give my family that little bit of light for Christmas Day.”

Elber will meet Cork’s emergency services today to tell her story ahead of the Remorial event.

“I think the level of awareness is improving. Having a real life scenario is much more effective than listing off statistics. I’m really grateful to Cork’s Emergency Services for the support they have shown me, particularly Peter Murphy from Angelsea Street.”

Events taking place as part of the Twomey Remorial initiative include a four mile family walk and a 110k cycle.

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