25 Year Celebrations The Friends

Donal Kelly, Chairman Peter Cutliffe, Casimir McGill and Brian McGarvey at the Friends of Letterkenny University Hospital 25th Anniversary Event and Annual Draw on Thursday last. Photo Clive Wasson

Function to mark the 25TH anniversary of the Friends of Letterkenny University Hospital – 21st December 2017

The Friends of Letterkenny University Hospital (LUH) celebrate their 25 years in existence this year. A function took place in LUH on Thursday, 21th December to mark the event. The Friends was set up in 1992 by like-minded people from both within LUH (LGH at the time) and the local community with two core objectives, namely to raise funds to facilitate and promote new service developments in the hospital and secondly to promote volunteerism where members of the community could contribute to the hospital by voluntary work.

Mr Sean Murphy, General Manager spoke of the positive effect the Friends have had in both promoting service developments in the hospital and to support efforts at national level in seeking funding bids. He said that once officials at national became aware that part funding from a voluntary source was available to kick start a new initiative, their attitude became more conducive to supporting the bid. As an example, he referenced the €750,000 the Friends promised in 2003 to contribute towards the refurbishment of the Acute Mental Health Unit if the junior Health Minister at the time, Mr John Moloney agreed to provide overall funding for the project.

Dr Conal MacAbhaird, Consultant Radiologist told the audience of the sequence of events where the procurement of a CT scanner in the hospital in 1996 meant that LUH could develop an oncology service which then led to the ability to bid for a consultant Oncologist, none of which were possible without the input of the Friends at the outset. He said the whole oncology service network in place in LUH now could be traced back to the original initiative by the Friends to fund the purchase of the first CT scanner. People in Donegal who previously had to travel to Dublin & Galway for life saving treatment can now avail of this service locally, primarily due to the Friends of LUH.

Local businessman Mr Peter Cutliffe, Chairman of the Friends spoke of the emphasis of community ownership of the local hospital and the need to support it. He said that almost everyone in Donegal will need to rely on the services of the hospital one way or another at some point in time, therefore if community and voluntary effort can enhance the services locally or help to bolster hospital & Saolta’s management in bidding for services development at national level, then all the better.

Michael_MacGinty_Friends_Website_Launch_25th_drawThe Friends of LUH used the function as an opportunity to launch a new and improved Friends website www.thefriends.ie
Mr Michael MacGinty, of MeanIT Web Partners web designer gave a practical demonstration of the new website outling the historical journey and achievements of the Friends with particular reference to the electronic donate menu. It is self-explanatory, just click on the donate icon and follow the simple instructions.


The Friends make a fund of €30,000 available annually for all wards and departments in the hospital to bid for a grant to fund a local service development – the successful recipients who received their grants were:
• The Stroke Department
• Intensive Care Unit
• The Orthopaedic Department
• The Pulmonary Rehabilitation Department.
• Day Services Unit

Committee members who served 25 years on the committee of the Friends were presented with long service awards. They were:
• Ms Mary Gallagher
• Ms Vera Sweeney
• Ms Ann McGowan
• Ms Eileen BannAn
• Mr Ian McGarvey.

Finally, the draw for the annual Friends Christmas hamper raised over €11,500. Peter Cutliffe thanked Allen McCrea, committee member for coordinating the selling of tickets
.The winners of the prizes for the Christmas hamper were as follows:
• Luxury Christmas Hamper winner – JJ McInaw, Donegal Town
• Bottle of Brandy – Valerie Lawne, St Johnston.
• Christmas cake – Charlie Boyle, Gartan, Letterkenny
• Box of Chocolates – Margaret Hilson, Letterkenny
• Bottle of Wine – Chloe McMonagle, Letterkenny

Finally, four of the five Chairmen of over the lifetime of the Friends, namely Casmir McGill, Brian McGarvey, Donal Kelly & Peter Cutliffe all spoke of their reasons as to why they became involved in the Friends and why they took a leadership role in managing the direction and governance of the Friends. The first ever chairman of the Friends was Mr Noel O Connell.