Sunday 22 October 2017

Family ties cement Wexford fund-raiser for school in Kenya


ABOVE: Larry Byrne, Leo Staples of Corner Boy, Mary Furlong, Mick D'Arcy of Corner Boy and Frank Staples; RIGHT: Fr Leo Staples.
ABOVE: Larry Byrne, Leo Staples of Corner Boy, Mary Furlong, Mick D'Arcy of Corner Boy and Frank Staples; RIGHT: Fr Leo Staples.
ABOVE: Larry Byrne, Leo Staples of Corner Boy, Mary Furlong, Mick D'Arcy of Corner Boy and Frank Staples; RIGHT: Fr Leo Staples.

there will a direct family connection, albeit one that is decades apart, between two of the principles involved in raising funds for a children's school in Kenya at the end of the month.

One is the 90-year-old Wexford priest who has dedicated his life to his African dream and the other is his nephew and namesake, Leo Staples Junior, the bassist with Wexford's Corner Boy.

In fact two other collaborations have been formed with the mutual goal of raising funds to provide skills training for children at the Bobleo Children's School in Kitale, Kenya.

First to take to the stage at the concert due to be held in Clayton Whites Hotel in Tuesday, May 31, will will be The Wedges, the stars of BBC Wales and theatre fame who will entertain with a night of song, music and comedy.

Having performed in Whites Hotel last year to a full house that raised €6,000 to build a school in Zambia, The Wedges are excited to return to perform for a Wexford audience and raise further funds for a worthy cause.

Corner Boy will kick off their set at 10 p.m. with their blend of folk, trad and rock.

The groups behind the charity concert are Sport for Africa, which has been fund raising for educational projects in the poorest areas of Africa for 16 years, and the Bobleo Trust, run by Wexford priest Fr Leo Staples.

Fr Staples, from Wygram and Piercestown, has been living and working in a parish, about the size of Wexford, in Kenya for 65 years.

Both groups have fund-raised tirelessly to provide education in for children in the poorest regions of Africa. Both share the mutual belief that education is the most powerful gift and investment that can be made in poor regions.

With a common ethos, it made sense for them to come together, pool their strengths and resources, in order to achieve the same objective. Fr Staples is now in his 91st year and was ordained in Kiltegan in 1951. He arrived in Kenya, amongst the Pokot people, after his ordination and immediately went about learning the Pokot language and setting up a new Catholic parish.

He built the parish church and produced liturgical books in the Pokot language. He has, over the years, opened 38 out-station churches, four dispensaries, 34 primary schools and two secondary boarding schools.

He has provided inspiration to people in Kenya and Ireland all his life, not least to his nephew and namesake, Leo Staples Junior, who is bassist with Corner Boy. 'I'm delighted to be able to help Fr Leo to continue to do his work in Kenya. He's been there a long time now and he's built hospitals and schools and so on,' said Leo Jnr, 'he's told me personally about the lack of proper medical facilities when he arrived and about how through building hospitals, they have been able to reduce infant mortality significantly.

'It's a great thing to be able to use music to help others and we do it as much as we can.' Sport for Africa and the Fr. Leo Staples Bobleo Trust would like to acknowledge all performers and organisations who have waived their fee for this worthy cause.' Tickets are priced at €15 per person and are available from Clayton Whites Hotel, from Eugene Doyle Accountants, Enniscorthy and from Larry Byrne 086-2537539 or Frank Staples 086-2305050. The Wedges will perform at 7 p.m. and and Corner Boy at 10 p.m.

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