Wexford's Ard Aoibhinn marks 20 years of care and support

By Amy Lewis

Jimmy Kelly, Mary Finnegan, James Browne, Maureen Rossiter, Gerry Heaney, Una Kavanagh, Yvonne Downey, Geraldine Roche and David Reck.
Jimmy Kelly, Mary Finnegan, James Browne, Maureen Rossiter, Gerry Heaney, Una Kavanagh, Yvonne Downey, Geraldine Roche and David Reck.
Oonagh Cussen, Lisa Walsh and Lucy O'Keeffe.
Bridget Keogh, JJ Kileen, Ciara Carthy and Seamus Keogh
Martin and John O'Leary.
Cherrie Power and her mother Ann Kilduff Barry.
Mary Connors, Mikie Connors and Ann Cash.
Jimmy and Margaret Cash.
Ned and Maggie Cash
Nan Connors, Una Kavanagh, Mary Connors, Gerry Connors, Jean Connors and Mick Connors.

Staff and residents at Ard Aoibhinn certainly had a reason to celebrate when they marked 20 years of support services recently.

The huge achievement was honoured with a big bash which was attended by 400 people, including Gerry Heaney, director of Ard Aoibhinn. According to Gerry, the day was a great success that was enjoyed by all. He was delighted to be able to mark the anniversary with a big occasion together with current and former members of staff.

The event was a jam-packed day of entertainment, which included music from three bands, a magic show with Donal Carroll and line dancing. There was also a bouncy slide on site for younger guests and a photographic display, which depicted the journey of Ard Aoibhinn over the past 20 years.

Established in 1995, Ard Aoibhinn provides day and residential services for people with disabilities in Wexford Town. At present, over 180 families receive assistance from the centre, which is run by voluntary company An Breacadh Nua. This is a huge increase from when Gerry joined the Centre in 2007.

'When I first joined Ard Aoibhinn, we were supporting around 60 families,' he said. It is so great to see that we have been able to expand our support, despite the difficult funding cuts.'

The centre currently provides day services in three different locations in Wexford Town. Day centre services include a preschool for children aged between two and five years old, a multi-sensory room and an activation service, which invites adult attendees to take part in various activities. According to Gerry, these services are in need of expansion due to such high demand.

'With support and funding from the local and national Government, we could expand these services along with our respite services,' he added.

Ard Aoibhinn also has six residential facilities across Wexford, in addition to respite services for children and adults. Their seven specially-adapted vehicles for wheelchair users also allows them to cater for 30 clients across 300 miles a day.

As Gerry explained, Ard Aoibhinn not only provides services to people with disabilities and their family members, but also offers employment to people in the county.

'We take on nursing students from Waterford for their placement. So far, about 60 per cent of these placements have resulted in permanent positions,' he said. 'We also have a great rapport with local businesses and try our best to support them.'

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