Dermot appeal for London Irish
The UK television presenter Dermot O' Leary is urging people to support the London Irish Centre's Christmas appeal for vulnerable members of the Irish community in the city.
O'Leary who has just finished presenting this year's X-Factor series on ITV, is a son of Sean and Marie (nee Browne) O' Leary who emigrated to England many years ago from their native Wexford town.
Dermot who grew up in the UK has always been proud of his Irish and Wexford roots. He is a frequent visitor to the town where he has many relations and and is a strong supporter of the Wexford hurling team. He is also the voice of a Visit Wexford television tourism campaign.
One of Britain's biggest television stars, he is lending his name and high profile to the London Irish Centre of which he recently became a patron.
'It's a big honour for me to be patron of the London Irish Centre. I'm very proud of my Irish heritage', he said.
'My parents were part of the post-war generation of immigrants who came to London to find a new life so the London Irish community is one that is very close to my heart'.
'We want and need the Irish community to support this important work for the Irish in most need.'
The Irish in London have no shortage of success stories but there are also many who find themselves lonely and vulnerable, especially at Christmas.
Social isolation, mental health problems, addiction, family breakdown and homelessness are among the issues faced by some emigrants, with older people being particularly vulnerable.
The London Irish Centre, located in the heart of Camden, has offered a safe sanctuary to many of these emigrants for over 60 years, providing a range of community services, cultural programmes, advice and outreach activities.
The centre also organises social activities and journeys to Ireland for long-term emigrants, some of whom haven't been home in decades.
The London Irish Centre is appealing for badly-needed funds to continue its work work while also reminding people to consider contacting any overseas relatives they may not have heard from in years.
'For most of us, Christmas means friends and family, presents and looking forward to a great New Year. But, for many vulnerable Irish people in London, it means loneliness, a long hard winter and, and with ongoing welfare cuts, a grim time in 2017. This appeal will help us to provide support and advice services to those in most need', said centre CEO Seán Kennedy.
The LIC is asking for donations through JustGiving at https://justgiving.com/londonirishcentre or go to www.londonirishcentre.org.