Songs of Hope fundraiser raising money for the Hope Centre
Hope centre to benefit from fundraiser in Stafford's on Sunday
There will be a massive fundraiser in Stafford's Pub, Tullicanna on Sunday, May 6, in aid of the Hope Centre.
The fundraiser, Songs for Hope, is being organised by Emmet Cleary and Tommy Rennick. Emmet who lost his wife Niamh to cancer in September 2016, just 14 months after the couple married, met Tommy who lost both his parents at a very young age to cancer a couple of months ago.
Emmet had approached Tommy, an accomplished guitar teacher, about teaching the couple's five-year-old son Josh the guitar as he had shown great interest.
Tommy said who lives near Emmet and Josh said that while he didn't normally start teaching until children were a little older he would give Josh a few lessons.
'When Emmet brought Josh to me I wasn't going to teach him because I normally don't take students until they are a little older but when I met Josh something just clicked with him. I had lost my own mother to cancer when I was five years old and two years later I lost my dad to cancer.
'I knew Josh had lost his own mam at a very young age so I think that was what clicked. When my dad died I started to learn the guitar and to be quite honest I think it saved me. Back then there was no such thing as support centres like the Hope Centre.
'Music became a life line for me at that time and now I can offer something similar to Josh. It's amazing how and why people come into your life. When I met Emmet I realised he truly is an exceptional man and when he told me about the amazing work the Hope Centre does I really wanted to help
'Knowing what it's like to experience such a devastating loss at such a young age I wanted to make some contribution to the running of the Hope Centre.'
Emmet himself has been actively fundraising for the Hope Centre since Niamh's death having benefited greatly from the services they offer.
He said: 'About a month before she passed away, Niamh started to have seizures at home and that's when I realised I could no longer care for her and I had to step back and allow the professionals to do their job. That was when I first contacted the Hope Centre and they were able to advise me what exactly I should be doing. I also wanted to know how best to protect Josh. They put me in contact with a counsellor, but he was only four and he didn't really understand what was going on. He had only really seen his mammy sick. He never really saw the bubbly, lovely person that I knew Niamh as.'
While most people associate the Hope Centre with helping people who are in the midst of battling cancer, as well as their families, Emmet says that, in actual fact, it was only really when Niamh passed away that he really used the centre.
'I remember after Niamh passed away, they invited me up to the centre for a cup of tea. That was a massive step for me. I had plenty of people around me who were doing all they could to help, but it was great just to have someone to listen who understood. The more I spoke of my journey, of our journey, the more I realised all that I did for her and I started to feel proud of myself.'
Since Niamh's death Emmet has organised a number of fundraising events for the Hope Centre including Rally for Hope which he hopes to run again this year.
'Josh is getting on great with Tommy's guitar lessons and is learning Ed Sheeran songs because his mammy used to love Ed Sheeran. It's a real way for him to bond with her as he was so young when she died. It's kind of like a memorial to her.
'Tommy and I wanted to do this fundraiser for the Hope Centre and lots of various acts have gotten behind it to support it. The fundraiser is called Songs of Hope and takes place in Stafford's Pub, Tullicanna, Ballymittty from 4 p.m. until late. Admission is free and there will be various bands playing on the evening from pop to rock and from country to jazz. There will be bucket collection and raffle on the day so we are hoping to raise a nice sum for the Hope Centre.'